Woodsongs Show #6. John Latini and Marla Harris

Posted On:05.07.2011
Posted by ken

Episode #6 of the Woodsongs Show was with John Latini, Marla Harris, and Steve Davis. The local paper gave it generous coverage the day of the show and deemed it a “Fitting Finale” to the regular season. That turned out to be the prescient Truth.

As you’ll see when you hear this show, John Latini is as dextrous in conversation as he is on the guitar. His is the kind of persona that alters everything nearby with its power and charisma. Latini’s presentation is absolutely irresistible. The ultimate extravert, he exudes confidence, good humor, wit, and an affectionate attachment to life. It hard not to be taken with his left-of-center observations and his gentle intimations of the absurdities of the world. At the same time, he courageously reveals himself in songs like “Yesterday I Painted Your Room”, a touching song about the time of life when children begin to leave home. We heard the blues in its truest form, a man putting his emotion into song form. And loving life all the more from doing so. I could talk here about Latini’s guitar skills, but you’ll have to listen to the recording yourself. Let me just say this – he plays passing chords that have “13th” in their names – one after another.

I knew that Marla Harris was going to give a memorable performance. I’ve heard her before and loved everything she did. But there is something about the Woodsongs stage…I don’t know whether it’s my perception, the proximity, the setting, the sound, the ambience…but I had never heard Marla like this before. It goes without saying that the timbre of her voice is rare and exceptional. And her delivery is intuitively immediate and beautifully natural. But what struck me this night was her skill. That is, the ability to hit unusual notes, to effortlessly slide around the tune, to play with phrasing in ways that made people like Frank Sinatra a legend. And like Sinatra, as I noted on the program, Marla did so without flash or brass. It was all just as if it was supposed to be that way. Understated brilliance.

I have to say a word about Steve Davis here too. He accompanied Marla on the piano. This guy is so good that John Latini said to me on the intermission, “I was going to do some fancy blues progression stuff the next half of the show, but Steve here is ripping me a new [insert body part here].” OK, bringing that kind of humility to Latini’s reality was worth the price of admission. Steve is so good that, in rehearsal, he started playing the tune used to introduce me (Lover’s Waltz) without having heard it before. Money can’t buy that kind of talent. We will figure out a way to get Steve back on the show again.

The closing tune was the Sam Cooke classic, “Bring it on Home” and I’ll just say this – listen to the studio audience response at the end. These three musicians delivered it!