Dallas — The high-ceilinged venue at the Women’s Building darkens and the lights go up onstage. The pianist cues the drummer, bass-player and sax, and the groovy rhythms of a New York-style cabaret are set in motion for the Denise Lee Onstage’s Dallas Cabaret Festival 2017.
Couples and larger groups sitting at candlelit tables with white tablecloths hear headliner Cynthia Scott singing in her rich, alluring voice before she appears. When she steps to the stage in gold stilettos and a sheer red summer dress singing “Let’s Get Away” her fans applaud and whistle and the show begins.
Scott began her singing career in Dallas, and talked about her gigs in early Deep Ellum venues and gay bars around town. She sings a sultry “This Girl” and “Come Back to Me,” accompanied by New York jazz pianist Lafayette Harris, her longtime collaborator, who can take a song to a pounding crescendo, and land it “Nice and Easy,” one of Scott’s signature numbers.
By her side all night, and clearly loving the moment, was Dallas-based sax player Keith Anderson whose soaring riffs kept surprising everyone with their shifts and quirky spins. Anderson, up on his toes with his dreadlocks swinging over his shoulder, threatened to steal the show on a number of take-outs, especially on the bossa-nova style numbers. George Anderson speaks low on his stand-up bass and drummer Jaylon Williams gets his turn toward the end of the show with a New Orleans marching street rhythm that had everybody on their feet and waving napkins, parade-style. Happy crowd!
Scott herself was clearly delighted by the way the band and the audience got into the moment, surely the result of her own come-hither chemistry. She had the audience singing along with her hand-clapping rendition of “Down Home Blues,” and applauding her striking bebop sequences with the sax, a siren leading an eager sailor higher and higher.
After a joyful trip with band members via “Caravan,” Scott delivers a torchy “The Singer” a Latin-rhythm tribute she wrote in honor of greats like Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughan and other jazz and blues singers who became her models.
Scott calls her show “All About Love,” and she closes the evening with that song, and the audience singing along in total agreement after an evening with her. What’s not to love about a chill, jazzy evening in the Park on a hot summer night in the city.
Dallas Cabaret Festival continues through the weekend with different featured musicians each night.
» Denise Lee's second annual Dallas Cabaret Festival is performed at the Women's Building in Fair Park. It continues with the following performances:
- 7 p.m. Friday, July 28: Simone Gundy, "My Voice," with opening performance from Tarnecia Durham
- 7 p.m. Saturday, July 29: "It's All About the Blues" with blues guitarist Samuel James and vocalists Denise Lee, Kevin Haliburton, Willie Welch, Calvin Scott Roberts and Stephanie Brehm
General admission to the festival and parking is free. Because we are expecting large crowds, reservations are STRONGLY encouraged to guarantee a seat. You can make a reservation on Eventbrite under Dallas Cabaret Festival.