Lea Delaria at SF Jazz: House of Bowie

Last night, C.J. and I saw Lea Delaria perform with her all woman quartet at San Francisco’s Jazz Center.

We loved it.

The crowed loved it.

Lea Delaria loved it.

People who know Lea Delaria only from Orange is the New Black or her stand-up comedy may not be aware that she is also an excellent jazz musician in the classic sense. If her style fits right into the typical jazz scene, her song selections make her stand out.

Last night, it was mostly tunes from her current release, Hose of David, a collections of songs by David Bowie who approved of the project and offered his advice as well.

You can get a sense of what it was like from Let’s Dance but just a sense.  Jazz should be live; it loses something in the recordig studio.

Several moments last night were electric.  A slowed down version of Space Oddity brought the tragic story of Major Tom to life in a way I never felt before.  Gave me chills.  Her cover of Life on Mars kept the song extremely soft well past the point were most performers go big with it.   Doing this brings the lyrics to the forefront in a way a more rock ‘n roll delivery can’t.  When she finally went big with the last chorus of “Sailor’s fighting in the dance hall”  she knocked the audience out.

In between sets of songs Ms. Delaria gave the San Francisco audience doses of comedy that left the house howling.  None of it appropriate for small children or Trump supporters.  It was just the thing we all needed.

She got a standing ovation.

But listening to the album today…. I’m enjoying it but I’m not blown away like I was last night.  It’s those moments that no one expected that make jazz work so well.  I know this sounds pretentious, but live jazz, like most live music, is wonderful because you don’t know where it’s going to go. When it goes a bit wrong, as it did a couple of times last night very briefly, the mistakes are part of the fun.  When it goes right, it’s like a little daredevil act.  The audience feels the excitement of pulling it off the same way it does with an acrobatic act. Which is one reason why my personal jazz collection tends to favor live albums.

And why you should go see Lea Delaria if you ever get the chance.



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