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"Kathleen Landis has brought sophistication and style to the cabaret scene in Manhattan."
--Frank Egan, Chairman of American Theatre Roundtable.
"You've got to have a creative statement, a signature."
Saloon or Salon – the Pierre Hotel’s glamorous Cafe Pierre is both when Kathleen
Landis is at the piano. What's more, several years ago, she recorded an
ambitious first album, devoted to the many sides of George Gershwin, which
continues to demonstrate the many sides of Kathleen Landis and reflect her
"What I am is a modern harmonist with a lot of classical overtones into improvisation. My singing...is something that not a belting, on-the-sleeve kind of thing, but a reserved soliloquy, the feeling of being alone in a garden."
To Kathleen's long-time fans at the Cafe Pierre, where she has been playing piano and singing since 1984, this is only part of the story. With an upbeat personality, expressive green eyes and infectious laugh, Kathleen is not alone in a garden, but totally involved with those who come to see her. She welcomes requests, chats with customers between sets, and is clearly happy to be where she is, hostess in a salon, singing in a saloon, albeit a pretty classy saloon, but a spot where customers' cigar smoke is as much a part of the scene as the antiqued mirrors, tufted chairs and soft golden lighting. Where burst of laughter and loud comments exist side by side with the customers who are drawn into the Landis impressionistic style of Debussy sliding into Gershwin, a spark of Cole Porter color, a dash of Piazzola.
In other words, she is not Gunsmoke's saloon hostess, "Miss Kitty." Kathleen is foremost
a musician. Her four hours at the Cafe Pierre demonstrate the various facets
of her musicality. From the first hour, she is classical and basically romantic
-- Debussy, Chopin. She then moves on to jazz-flavored Gershwin, and from then
on, the room is charged with Latin rhythms, '40's style fox trots, tangos,
Arlen, Mercer, showtunes. She gives you something atmospheric, almost moody,
then turns on a dime to swing, big band, uptempo. Sitting through an entire
evening of Kathleen Landis, one is treated to a concert of musical moods. All
of this is Landis. And just as her deco accessories are part of her style,
Landis will need more than one recording to begin to reflect the many musical
sides to this talented artist.
"As a performer, I fill the Cafe Pierre with the music and lyrics of Porter, Berlin, Arlen, and a host of other songwriters who offered us a vision of a world where romance was king, and I see my audiences react with rapt attention."
-Kathleen Landis in letter to editor of The Wall Street Journal, 1995.
photo of Kathleen Landis: Dave Cross
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© 2006 Elizabeth Ahlfors. All rights reserved worldwide.