Arrow-right Camera

The Spokesman-Review Newspaper The Spokesman-Review

Thursday, October 22, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
Clear Night 32° Clear
News >  Features

Mccorkle Plays The Crowd Singer Introduces A Wide Range Of Jazz Styles To A Family Crowd

Don Adair Correspondent

Susannah McCorkle Sunday, July 30, at the Festival at Sandpoint

Jazz singer Susannah McCorkle accomplished the near-impossible Sunday evening.

When a patron underwrote McCorkle’s concert, ticket prices were waived and the show became a big family picnic with music provided.

Facing a crowd with a decidedly casual interest in jazz - judging from the number of children, this group hadn’t come prepared for serious listening - she turned her show into a lively demonstration of jazz singing styles.

McCorkle is perfectly suited for the task; her interest in jazz appears to be encyclopedic and her love for its characters inexhaustible.

She lovingly mimicked Carmen Miranda, a brilliant woman and a wonderful singer, she said, who built her image on playing dumb.

“How do you like my new outfit?” McCorkle said, sliding into character. “I think it’s a knock-down.”

She sang a lively, heavily accented and hip-swinging version of Miranda’s “Chica Chica Boom Chic.”

She sang Lambert, Hendricks and Ross’ version of Duke Ellington’s “Caravan,” performing all three parts in character to illustrate the complex character of that great vocal group. And she belted out a bluesy tribute to Bessie Smith, one of her early idols.

Turning to the children, McCorkle sang “If I Only Had A Heart,” the Tin Woodsman’s song from “The Wizard of Oz,” and made “The Genie’s Song” from “Aladdin” into a jazzy tour de force.

Years ago, McCorkle learned Portuguese so she could sing Brazilian jazz convincingly, and Sunday her rendition of Jobim’s “The Waters of March” sparkled with joyful vulnerability. It’s a delicate song and she handled it with a master’s touch.

McCorkle is equally effective with a ballad. Superbly backed by her own Allen Farnham Trio, she is a terrific interpreter of romantic material. Sitting on a stool at the piano, she sang the Gershwins’ “They Can’t Take That Away From Me” and evoked for this listener all the moods, faces and places associated with that song.

Her rendition of Chet Baker’s “My Buddy” included a note-for-note vocal translation of a Baker trumpet solo. Her superb ear and outstanding vocal control allow her to replicate the colors and tones of Baker’s horn in her voice.

McCorkle captured her love of jazz with Cole Porter’s “Don’t Fence Me In,” transforming the gallumping old cowboy song into a swinging ode to variety, and sang with great gusto saxman Gerry Mulligan’s comic feminist turn, “Pearly Sue.”

McCorkle’s performance was marred only by a staginess learned on the cabaret stage; outdoors at Sandpoint, naturalness is a better tool.

The Spokesman-Review Newspaper

Local journalism is essential.

Give directly to The Spokesman-Review's Northwest Passages community forums series -- which helps to offset the costs of several reporter and editor positions at the newspaper -- by using the easy options below. Gifts processed in this system are not tax deductible, but are predominately used to help meet the local financial requirements needed to receive national matching-grant funds.

Subscribe to the Coronavirus newsletter

Get the day’s latest Coronavirus news delivered to your inbox by subscribing to our newsletter.

New health insurance plans available November 1 through Washington Healthplanfinder

 (Photo courtesy WAHBE)

Fall means the onset of the cold and flu season.