When pianist Phineas Newborn Jr. first burst upon the jazz scene about two decades ago, he was hailed as the "new" Art Tatum.
Then 25, Newborn dazzled critics and audiences alike at Birdland and other New York jazz clubs with his strong two-handed keyboard attack and fleet melodies.
At about the same time, a young singer named Ernestine Anderson was starting to impress jazz fans with her assertive rhythmic style and sensitive soulfulness on ballads.
This week both performers are appearing in Washington, at Blues Alley through Saturday night, for the first time in almost 20 years. Neither has been seen outside the West Coast in recent years.
The other night, Newborn, 45, was still performing with the technical brilliance and musical verve that characterized his early playing. However, his once light touch has become more percussive. Torrentila melodies sprang continuously from the piano as he raced through jazz standards like "Daahoud," "Cheryl" and Jordu."
And there was his powerful and regal chordal approach on ballads like "Willow Weep for Me" and "You Go To My Head." Bernard Sweetney often looked at the pianist with their mouths open in amazement.
Anderson, who lived in England in the mid-'60s and performed on the continent, is still a husky-voiced, spirited vocalist who delivers standards like "Days of Wine and Roses" and "Am I Blue" with lots of punch. On Monday night, she offered a raucous "Stormy Monday Blues," the kind of flagwaver she is best at singing.