Vocalist Mary-Ann Lacey
adds novelty to her mix
Jazz singer introduces rock, country and rockabilly to her repertoire
By Byron Toben
September 8, 2022
Jazz vocalist Mary-Ann Lacey, who we have reviewed several times in the past with her largely 1920s-1950 classic jazz standards, has now displayed an equal talent for songs largely from the late 1950s through 1970s, which means a foray into rock, country and rockabilly. A number of these were displayed at her recent outdoor show at La Petite Marche on August 25, accompanied by Eric Sandmark on guitar and Sophie Charpentier on drums.
The list began with two jazz/swing numbers, the 1931 All of Me and the 1930 Please Don’t Talk About Me When I’m Gone but then switched to the 1957 country classic Walking After Midnight (which was Patsy Cline’s first big hit), followed by Johnny Nash’s 1972 Reggae influenced I Can See Clearly. The audience was falling in love with these when what should be warbled next but the 1961 pop hit, Can’t Help Falling in Love (most famously proclaimed by Elvis Presley) – and hopefully not to a Mean, Mean Man as in the 1956 Rockabilly song.
The 1957 Rockabilly refrain Love Me to Pieces was balanced by the 1961 country tune I Fall to Pieces.
The year 2000 witnessed country hit Long Time Gone, which really took off when recorded in 2002 by the Dixie Chicks.
The 1955 17 (Hot Rod Queen) reverted to jazz/swing and 1945 Blue Moon of Kentucky drew special applause, perhaps by many who remembered it having been covered by both Elvis Presley and Patsy Cline.
Dolly Parton’s 1973 Jolene of course was a must on the themes of the day, as was Brenda Lee’s 1959 Sweet Nothings.
I was particularly pleased with the inclusion of Come On-A-My House written in 1939 but really popularized in 1951 by Rosemary Clooney. I had not realized that it was written by one of my literary favourites, the Armenian-American novelist/dramatist William Saroyan and his cousin, Ross Bagdasarian, for a musical about the Armenian community in Fresno, California, which largely raised plums and many other fruits, which all were invited to eat.
The Irish-American Ms. Clooney adopted an Italian accent (sort of) in her hit version. The hospitality of inviting all in to eat candy and other goodies rings bells in Jewish, Greek and many other ethnic communities.
Ms. Lacey, a speech therapist by trade, is not only a jazz singer mentored by the legendary Sheila Jordan but also a tango dance expert who has performed in Argentina and Japan. She appears at La Petite Marche twice monthly – next time on September 10 at 7 pm.
Feature image: courtesy of Mary-Ann Lacey
Byron Toben, a past president of The Montreal Press Club, has been WestmountMag.ca’s theatre reviewer since July 2015. Previously, he wrote for since terminated web sites Rover Arts and Charlebois Post, print weekly The Downtowner and print monthly The Senior Times. He also is an expert consultant on U.S. work permits for Canadians.