In the tradition of the great voices that have given Chicago its musical backbone such as Mel Torme, Nat King Cole, Koko Taylor, Steve Allen and so many more, Mayne Stage Theater served as home for an incredible night of song and tribute that will not soon be forgotten. From March 2nd through March 3rd, audience members were treated to three nights of Chicago’s best vocal talents, as they performed songs referencing their hometown. Daryl Nitz hosted and performed in the thoroughly enjoyable three-hour event that featured Chicago’s top nightclub vocalists and touched on the many great music genres we have come to love from lounge to jazz to blues to soul.
What took place on these three nights was nothing short of tremendous with each talented performer making the most of their slot. On favorite, Mark Madsen, a Gale Street Inn resident performer, displayed his signature pipes to the tune of the sweetest jazz guitar I have heard in recent years. And there was plenty more… Denise Tomasello, looking dazzling in her long blue dress and diamond-studded shoes, floored guests with her rendition of “My Kind of Town” while, not so long after, Isiah Mitchell was a ball of energy while showing off his vocal range with flattering renditions of Lou Rawls “You'll Never Find Another Love Like Mine” and Stevie Wonder’s “For Once in My Life”.
Daryl Nitz, who also performed beautifully, did a fantastic job in putting such a memorable evening together by arranging such top caliber talent to appear under one roof and making it flow so well together. The list of talent was as rich as banana cream pie with appearances also by Liz Mandeville, Kimberly Gordon, Lynne Jordan, Jeff Hedberg, Skip Griparis and Beckie Menzie, who also played piano for most performers.
Still, as amazing as the night would have been with each of the above-mentioned performers alone, it was the appearance of legendary singer Audrey Morris that really put the stamp on the evening. With the poise, grace and beauty that holds true to her celebrated 50-plus year run, the 83-year-old recording artist manned the piano to play charming interpretations of “Chicago” and “Lush Life”. Gentle and precise were each key struck and velvety and timeless each note sung.
Just before Audrey took her place at the piano onstage, Daryl mentioned to the audience how influential her music had been in his life, giving due thanks to such a special performer. Daryl mentioned his favorite Audrey Morris recordings, “Film Noir” and “The Voice of Audrey Morris” as two albums that shaped not only his own musical path, but also plenty other of today’s marquis singers.
After Audrey’s performance the capacity crowd rose to their feet in standing ovation – a sign of true respect for someone so deserving.
As the show came to an end, each performer took their place onstage joining together for a big-ending rendition of the blues classic “Sweet Home Chicago”, capping off what was already a perfect evening.