Jazzitalia - Mary Setrakian & Avant Orchestra - When Broadway Encounters Jazz in Italy
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Mary Setrakian & Avant Orchestra
When Broadway Encounters Jazz in Italy
Teatro delle Erbe, Milano - November 21st, 2006
Review by: Eva Simontacchi

Pictures by: Mario Livraghi

Fai click qui per leggere la versione in italiano

Mary Setrakian's concert with the Avant Orchestra at the Teatro delle Erbe in Milan is almost sold out, and the audience is waiting for the concert to start. The concert has been organized by "Produzione Sgamp Entertainment," of Stefano Pisano and by Mary Setrakian's Italian Manager, Domenico Stante, a Roman actor, who introduced her to the Italian audience about three years ago. The evening is announced as a concert of Big Band music meeting the show tunes of Broadway.

At 9:15 the members of the "Avant Orchestra" go on stage: Roberto Villani, Paolo Milanesi, Andrea Baroldi (trumpets), Umberto Amesquita, Alberto Bollettieri, Mauro Ciccarese, Davide Guadini (trombones), Francesco Bianchi, Alessio Sabina (alto sax), Valentino Finoli, Rudy Manzoli (baritone sax), Gilberto Tarocco (tenor sax), Luca Cacucciolo (piano) Gianluca Alberti (double-bass), Alessio Pacifico (drums) and the Maestro Marco Fior, Director of the Avant Orchestra.

The concert starts with an instrumental piece, "Count Bubba" by Gordon Goodwin. When "Orange Colored Sky", the second piece listed in the program starts, instead of seeing Mary Setrakian appear on stage, we hear her singing behind us. She has no microphone, but we hear her voice quite well, even though a whole big band is playing. She is singing and walking toward the stage in the isle between the rows of seats of the Teatro delle Erbe to reach the orchestra. She carries such a positive energy with her, and spreads it around to all the people in the audience. Mary Setrakian has chosen very well-known pieces, and for this reason everybody can fully appreciate her personal interpretation of every song. The songs range from "Fever" to "Stormy Weather" and from "All Of Me" to "Cry me a river". These are all songs that are included in the standard jazz repertoire, but her approach to these standards is more brilliant, more "Broadway". Mary Setrakian acts while she sings, and she leaves the stage and walks among the audience. She surprises the audience, and also the pianist, Luca Cacucciolo as she climbes, sits, and even lies on the piano while he plays. Mary leaves the stage for a costume change while the band introduces the next portion of the show with "On Broadway." Mary Setrakian has performed on Broadway, and she proves her worth as she finishes out the first Act with songs from the Great White Way: "Hello Dolly!" (from "Hello Dolly!"), "All I Ask Of You" (from "Phantom of the Opera"), "Send In The Clowns" (from "A Little Night Music"), and "Easy As Life" (from "Aida"). Mary Setrakian is a perfect artist and actress; apart from changing her evening dresses various times during the concert, she switches from one character to the next with surprising ease and great naturalness. From sorrow or despair she is able to switch, in the next song, to being sexy and seductive, passing through so many moods and characters as the songs that are listed in the evening's program.

After the break, the Avant Orchestra piano, bass and drums play an Italian instrumental piece, "Estate", by Bruno Martino. Mary comes back on stage and announces "the Italian portion of the show" with "Mambo Italiano", and a rendition of Mina's "E se domani" that amazes the audience by her excellent Italian pronunciation and unique interpretation. To celebrate her Armenian roots, the concert continues with "You'll Never Know", "Come On-A-My House" (by famous Armenian author, William Saroyan and his cousin Ross Bagdasarian) and two songs in the Armenian language, "Loosin yelav" and "Karun Karun." Mary calls the entire orchestra back to the stage with the comic duet "I Got You Babe" (by Sonny Bono). She ends the concert with two beautiful songs of Broadway: "My Funny Valentine" (from "Babes in Arms") and "The Winner Takes It All" (from "Mamma Mia!")

The audience thanks Mary for the beautiful evening and for her excellent performance with an applause that lasts for a few minutes. After the audience's request for more, Mary ends the evening with an a cappella version of "The Sound of Music." To our delight, she tells us she is going to come back soon, in March 2007.

Mary Setrakian is surely an artist of the highest caliber. Apart from performing in concerts, she is a master voice teacher, holding courses for singers and actors during her Italian tours.

Related articles:

Ivan Lins at Blue Note in Milan: "His simplicity, naturalness and generosity are evident during his performances. You can feel he's with his audience all the time; he gives all he's got, and he does it having fun and involving Amuedo, the guitar-player with meaningful glances in order to establish performances and dynamics." (E. Simontacchi, N. Pazzaglia)


Interview with Ivan Lins: "When I start to write songs, well, I've never written songs for me, because I started to sing a little late in my career. Well, I started everything late. I started piano when I was 18, and then I started to write songs when I was at the University, and I never thought I was going to sing one day in my life. So when I was starting to write songs, I was imagining somebody singing them. And this kicks into my heart today." (Eva Simontacchi)


Pure Ecstasy (Eva Simontacchi)


Interview with Mary Setrakian: "...I work on the "need". The need is something you have when you're a little child. A need to be loved, a need to be seen, a need to be heard, a need to be somebody. There are all sorts of different needs, and the actor is to connect to the need sensation and sing and speak through that sensation..." (Eva Simontacchi)


5 day course with Mary Setrakian: "...we all had to face the fact of "being naked" in our emotions, and this is something that may make somebody unsure, or raise some defences. But Mary supported each of us in our individual journies." (Eva Simontacchi)

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Publishing Date: 03/02/2007

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