Fine Tunie  

Tamara Tunie's new show at Feinstein's/54 Below is thrilling. By Brian Kellow. 

Tamara Tunie
Courtesy Feinstein’s/54 Below.

Today, we don’t often hear a voice like Tamara Tunie’s. In “Mash Up,” her recent act at Feinstein’s/54 Below (seen November 15), she offered a thrilling evening of full-out, gutsy singing. Early on, Tunie had a degree of classical training, which probably accounts for her ability to switch from full belt to head voice without losing any power. In “With Every Breath I Take,” Cy Coleman and David Zippel’s stylish torch song from City of Angels, she sang both high and big, nearly stopping the show. She worked similar magic in the old Jimmy Scott tune “Why Did You Leave Heaven?” and Tommy Wolf and Fran Landesman’s “Ballad of the Sad Young Men.” 

There were occasional lags—a jazzy arrangement of “Here’s That Rainy Day,” which Tunie sang as a tribute to the late Phyllis Hyman, circled without landing, and sometimes she seemed to be performing too close to the mic—but for most of the evening she gave a master class in charismatic singing. She approached a number such as Stephen Sondheim’s “I Remember Sky,” from Evening Primrose, which usually receives a quiet, introspective performance, with bravado, yet she lost none of its intimacy and meaning. Tunie received able support from pianist and music director Mike Renzi, bassist Gary Haas and drummer Buddy Williams. 

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