Written by Tyler Wilson
On Saturday Feb. 15, St. Mary’s College of Maryland’s (SMCM) Bruce Davis Theater hosted Alice Fleury and Arthur S. Zamanakos as they performed “Double A Cabaret,” featuring performances by students and a jazz band. The event included a wide variety of hits from the 20th century onward. This has been an annual event at St. Mary’s College of Maryland since 2012, when it was started by Arthur Zamanakos as a Valentine’s Day gift to his late wife Alice, who passed away in 2007. The performance consisted of music from the jazz band, all of the singers as an ensemble and individual performances by all of the singers. The singers in the show had to audition and go through months of vocal lessons to master their songs.
After an introduction by SMCM professor of music and director of the event, Larry Vote, and a song by the jazz band, Jeanette Warren (‘20) opened the show with an impressive performance of Frank Sinatra’s “New York, New York.” Warren hit every note perfectly and was very expressive with her singing, becoming absorbed within the music. This set the tone for the night, as each singer wowed the crowd with their unique style, whether it was the the wonderful low range of Thomas Dolan (‘23) in “She Used To Be Mine,” the wonderful high range of Rachel Steelman (‘20) in “Holding Out for a Hero,” the energetic Brian Bates (‘23) in “Everybody Wants to Rule the World” and the powerful Terrayne Carter (‘21) in “At Last.” It was clear after watching all the singers perform that all of their training had paid off.
The jazz band accompanying the singers was also amazing, complete with screaming trumpet solos, stunning saxophone solos, an occasional slick lick on the keys and trombone and steady tempos on the bass and drums. The jazz band consisted of all professional players, with Richard Humphries on saxophone, Gary Wolfe on trumpet, Bryan Bourne on trombone, Jerry Ascione on piano, Glenn Paulson on drums and Bill Hones on bass. Hones, Humphries, and Paulson are all music instructors at SMCM. Humphries explained that Ascione had practiced with the singers and was the “musical director” of the band. Humphries mentioned how it was “a lot of fun” to work with such “great players.” In contrast to the singers, the band only had “one rehearsal” the afternoon of the show, but they “already knew” some of the songs in advance and the ones that they did not they learned the pattern of the song and were able to play it based off that. For example in the song “Back to Black” it was “a four chord repetition” and as Humphries explained “once you’ve played a hundred four chord repitition songs it does not take long to get the feel for it.” That being said, being able to identify the pattern of the song and the chords of the song in one day is no easy task, yet these professionals were able to make it look easy.
More than anything, though, there were plenty of smiles to go around during the show. The singers were all moving to the beat of the songs, the jazz band was cracking smiles throughout the show and at one point the audience got into the act by clapping along to a song. As Humphries explained, “I know the audience enjoyed it, the singers enjoyed the experience and I know the backup band had a good time.” If “Double A Cabaret” keeps being this fun for everyone involved, it will be here to stay for many more years to come.