The decorated atrium at the Oakeside Mansion once again served as the backdrop to “Music at the Mansion,” a delightful afternoon of musical entertainment.
Hostess Corinna Sowers-Adler began with a bubbly welcome to the appreciative crowd. She opened the show with a cover of Garry Novikoff’s “Why Didn’t You Tell Me?”, a comical take on an accidental poisoning that was especially apt just days after Thanksgiving.
She then relinquished the stage to the first singer of the event, Bistro Award Winner Deb Berman. Although she appeared to forget a few of the lines in her first song, she actually seemed more comfortable with the twisty, serpentine lyrics and melodies that dominated the middle of her set. Accompanist for the afternoon Sean Harkness matched her effortlessly with equally acrobatic guitar runs.
And lest you think cabaret singers are out of touch with today’s pop tunes, Berman would be quick to prove you wrong. The highlight of her set was a mash-up of the jazz standard, “The Best Things in Life Are Free” and Jessie J’s hit “Price Tag” in which Harkness displayed his skills as a backup singer and rapper.
Next, was vocalist Tanya Holt, who replaced the comic patter of Berman with a blues burn that really impressed the crowd. Her voice, a mix of Billy Holiday and Fantasia Barrino with a melodic lilt, kept the room lingering on her every word. Her rendition of “I’m Gonna Teach You Some Blues” even elicited a spontaneous, “You tell him!” from an enthusiastic listener in the back row.
The final guest of the afternoon was Susan Winter. This seasoned pro gave her set a theme by choosing songs from several films, including “The Motorcycle Diaries” (“Al Otro Lado Del Rio”) and “To Have and Have Not” (“How Little We Know”).
Her rich voice was the perfect bridge as the afternoon drifted into evening.
Afterward the singers and Harkness, who are all friends and frequently perform together, explained why they enjoy coming to Bloomfield’s Oakeside Mansion.
“I think it’s a wonderful opportunity. It’s a nice quaint environment. The reception was very warm and loving. I’d like to come back,” said Winter.
“It’s very warm and it makes the performers comfortable quickly,” added Berman.
Maplewood resident John Dey said he really enjoyed the show. “To come here and see a great show was really, really a thrill for a beautiful Sunday afternoon," he raved. "I just know so many people who would have liked to have been here so I’ll remember for next month.”
With another chance to hear great music on the horizon, maybe it won’t be so bad to say good-bye to the fall and welcome the winter.
Berman can be seen doing her show, “Piano, Bass and Dreams” at the Metropolitan Room in Manhattan on November 30th, and December 5th, 6th, and 7th all at 7pm.
Tanya Holt will be playing her first solo show in 5 years at Urban Stages in Manhattan on December, 10th at 9pm.
“Music at the Mansion” will return on December 18th at 3pm with Carolyn Enger and Rosemary Loar.