Veronica Klaus Returns to San Francisco with the Tammy Hall Trio, Martuni’s Piano Bar, September 1, 2019
I last reviewed the award-winning chanteuse Veronica Klaus back in April 2015 right before her bold decision to leave San Francisco after a 30-year run for a new life in quaint Sharon Springs, NY. She returned for a sold-out 2nd annual limited engagement run at the extremely intimate Martuni’s Piano Bar and I can report that nothing has changed, which is a very, very good thing. Klaus remains one of the premiere song stylists around, a chief interpreter of a long lost but always cherished era of female vocalists that is timeless and a thing of beauty in VK’s satin elbow-length gloved hands.
Beautiful love songs of all variety fill her eclectic set; her opener of 1931’s “All of Me” (Gerald Marks/Seymour Simons), the suggestive “Somebody Touched Me” and Buddy Johnson’s lovely “Save Your Love for Me”. Klaus can work a ballad like the best, milking the emotions out of the lyric and drawing all attention to her delivery, enhanced by her 40’s style and classic phrasing. Accompanied by the longtime collaborator Tammy Hall on piano, Daniel Fabricant of standup bass and Daria Johnson of drums, Klaus swings a tune like “What A Difference A Day Makes”, starting slow but ramping up the rhythm in a rhumba style.
Bernice Petkere’s stylish noir tune 1933’s “Close Your Eyes” and “Trav’lin Light”, a 1942 song composed by Trummy Young and Jimmy Mundy with lyrics by Johnny Mercer illustrate a love of the ballad and remind us of the golden age of songwriting that will not be lost as long as VK is around. Her arrangement of the Smokey Robinson tune “The Hunter Gets Captured by the Game” employs a slowed-down tempo than the original Marvelettes release and is a joy.
Klaus, who re-invented herself ‘vintage’ takes Joni Mitchell’s 1969 folk hit “Both Sides Now” and weaves her spell all over it – her breathy, slight Mid-Western twang massaging Joni’s haunting lyrics of self-awareness and discovery into her own inimitable style. The first of two encores was Ruth Ettting’s 1928 hit “Love Me or Leave Me” (Gus Kahn/Walter Donaldson) is a typical Klaus upbeat arrangement, elevating the original ballad into a swing statement. Leave her, never! Love her, yes.