The New York Pops- Heart and Soul

 

 

The Company

 

by Alix Cohen

 

Kicking off African American History Month, Steven Reineke, Musical Director/Conductor of The New York Pops, welcomes guest artists James Monroe Inglehart and Capathia Jenkins in the aptly titled Heart and Soul. “We’re gonna party in here tonight,” he exults.

These are two terrific entertainers. Inglehart (in his Carnegie Hall debut) sings with spirit and moves like a thespian half his size. During an instrumental James Brown mash-up, he comes tearing out of the stage door as if spontaneous and dances up an infectiously joyful storm. Audience heads bob; grins erupt. Jenkins’ seriously beautiful voice gets under one’s skin and beelines for the heart. She makes lyrics personal, exudes warmth and graciously calls out excellent back-up singers Crystal Monee Hall, Michael McElroy, and Anastasia Talley. The performer’s rendition of “I Will Always Love You” soars (without stress) bringing the cheering hall to its feet. Both artists phrase with skill and, where appropriate, ‘tude. Chemistry is swell.

James Monroe Inglehart, Steven Reineke, Capathia Jenkins

 

We hear songs by Nickolas Ashford/Valerie Simpson, Al Kooper, Stevie Wonder, Otis Redding, and Dolly Parton. Jenkins offers Jim Weatherly’s “Midnight Train to Georgia” introduced by “my favorite all time singer on the planet, Gladys Knight” with the kind of commitment she’d show were Knight in the hall. Ingelhart’s “I Love You More Than You’ll Ever Know” (Al Kooper) arrives in slow march tempo, at the same time low key and sincere testimony.

Jenkins’ “I Wanna Dance With Somebody (Who Loves Me)” (George Merrill/Shannon Rubicam) is exuberantly flirty. Emphasis evocatively punches : Don’tcha wanna dance – Ha! -with me baby/Dontcha wanna dance- Uh huh- with me boy…A bubbly version of “Rock with You” (Rod Temperton) manages to both purr AND boogy- not an easy feat.

Inglehart employs the willing audience during “Sir Duke” (Stevie Wonder), first clapping, then, holding out the microphone, as chorus. Sheer evangelistic fun. His “Ordinary People” (John Legend) “might be the most honest R & B song ever written.” It emerges at the other end of the spectrum beginning with just piano and cello. Hands at his sides, Inglehart is vocally demonstrative palpably floating up to higher, closing register.

 

Among instrumentals, the most successful is Barry White’s “Love’s Theme” (arrangement Tim Berens), “the only orchestral track to reach #1 on the charts.” Written for the full panoply of instruments, strings work here. Once again New York Pops lives up to its tag line” A Different Kind of Orchestra.

Unfortunately, common sound issues with these programs were particularly frustrating tonight. Back-up singers seemed engulfed by the orchestra almost completely losing a contributory layer. Jenkins’ and Inglehart’s fine voices were buried 85% of the time.

Photos by Richard Termine

 

Carnegie Hall February 2, 2018
The New York Pops: http://www.newyorkpops.org/

 

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