The Charlin Jazz Society's "Saxes and Singers" concert at the Kennedy Center's Terrace Theater last night covered a lot of ground. Parts of it, however, were covered more capably than others.
Saxophonist Sayyd Abdul Al Khabyyr, best known for his work with Dizzy Gillespie and the Duke Ellington Orchestra, was both the evening's special guest and the real star of the show. On soprano, alto, tenor and baritone saxes, he performed as both a soloist and an accompanist with soulful vigor and was equally at home working in or out of the jazz mainstream. Singer Pam Bricker, who shared some delightful and harmonically tricky vocalise numbers with Rick Harris, certainly benefited from Al Khabyyr's support during her sensuous reading of "Lush Life."
Another highlight came when Selena McDay, a law student at American University, remembered Billie Holiday's close ties to Lester Young with a heartfelt medley that featured the fine tenor saxophonist Paul Carr. Candace DeBartolo also contributed some nice touches in a supporting role on tenor, but her vocal tribute to Louis Jordan's jump-band sound sorely lacked the brassy exuberance of the real thing. Pianist Maria Rodriguez (who was occasionally under-miked), bassist Pepe Gonzalez and drummer Harold Summey did an excellent job of juggling the ever-shifting moods.