Love was “swinging” in the air Thursday night at Old Town Temecula Community Theater. And there was a whole lot to love for fans of Janis Siegel of the famed vocal jazz group Manhattan Transfer.
Siegel’s solo performance, which was backed by the Los Angeles-based 16-piece Elliot Deutsch Big Band, proved to be everything one would expect of a nine-time Grammy-winning artist.
After opening with an upbeat arrangement of “The Way You Look Tonight” and another of Deutsch’s own deliciously syncopated tunes, Siegel took the stage to warm applause.
Siegel began with a perfectly poised “Love is a Tender Trap,” sliding and scatting deftly through the scales with a command of voice and pitch not heard in many of today’s vocalists.
Her voice, like an saxophone gliding effortlessly from high to low, bold to almost-whispers, Siegel did not shy away from a daring selection of songs that showcased her signature sound.
Among the favorites was an ode to Ella Fitzgerald with “Why Have a Falling Out Just When We’re Falling in Love,” a shoulder-swaying “Route 66″ and a sultry “Midnight Sun” that Siegel concluded with an impossibly beautiful cascade of notes.
Siegel showcased a little sass and rock and roll with a hip “I Know the Way to Brooklyn” and trumpeted her way through the wonderfully sophisticated Manhattan Transfer piece “Sing Joy Spring.”
And the Bohemian-inspired “Small Day Tomorrow” had even members of the band grooving and moving to the bluesy beat.
Thursday’s performance was originally scheduled for December, 2011 and was to feature Manhattan Transfer soprano Cheryl Bentyne. Siegel stepped in to take her friend’s place when Bentyne had to cancel due to illness.
To learn more about upcoming performances at Old Town Temecula Community Theater, visit www.temeculatheater.org.
Kerri S. Mabee can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow me on Twitter @kerrimabee.