JOSEPHINE BEAVERS at Feinstein’s at Vitello’s

Los Angeles / Wednesday July 10, 2019

Although she loved singing songs from the Great American Songbook when she was growing up, Josephine Beavers chose a more conventional life as a housewife, just singing now and then on the side for many years. However back in 1993 she had the opportunity of a lifetime, recording an album arranged and produced by her friend pianist Ed Vodicka that found her in the legendary Capitol studios joined by a large all-star orchestra. The upcoming reissue of that special music, which will be coming out in the fall, has inspired the singer to make a comeback after rarely performing during the past 30 years.
At Feinstein’s at Vitello’s, Josephine Beavers was joined by pianist Ed Vodicka, bassist Kirk Smith, drummer Kendall Kay, trumpeter Nolan Shaheed, and tenor-saxophonist Charles Owens. The rhythm section began the night with a nice relaxed and swinging version of “I’ve Got The World On A String,” the two horns made the group a quintet on Sonny Stitt’s “The Eternal Triangle,” and then Ms. Beavers began her extensive set with a joyous version of “I’ve Got A Lot Of Living To Do.” She had just begun her comeback two weeks earlier but already sounded quite comfortable and her voice was equal to how she sounded decades ago.
On such songs as “Where Or When,” a sensitive version (complete with verse) of “I’ve Got A Crush On You,” “Change Partners,” “Night And Day,” “I’ll Be Around,” a dramatic “Cry Me A River,” “’S Wonderful,” “The Good Life,” “But Beautiful,” and a voice-piano duet on “I’ll Be Seeing You,” Josephine Beavers put on a fine show, assisted by Vodicka’s excellent arrangements. The banter between the two between songs (the pianist was quite funny) added to the warm atmosphere that one felt in enjoying the comeback of Josephine Beavers.
I have seen Vitello’s performance space many times over the years under several different names and setups. It has never looked better than it does in its current version. The seats are more comfortable than before, the seating is much more logical (everyone can see the stage), and the décor is beautiful. One hopes for the success of this important room which is now being directed by Michael Feinstein.

Scott Yanow

L.A. Jazz Scene / August 2019