Connie Evingson    Star Tribune photo by Tom Wallace

 

It was a terrific idea for Valentine’s weekend concerts: All You Need Is Love, celebrating the Beatles songbook. Ace organizer/vocalist extraordinaire Connie Evingson rounded up some musical friends from different generations and with different tastes. However, the program at the Jungle Theater didn’t come together smoothly, at least on Monday’s encore performance. She could have used a little more help from her friends.
Evingson, a longtime Minneapolis jazz star, was predictably wonderful, turning “Oh Darling” into a Ray Charles-like piano piece, injecting a little Miles Davis into a jazzed up “Blackbird,” reimagining “When I’m 64” as John Philip Sousa gone Dixieland and taking “Love Me Do” to New Orleans with a lazy Southern, countrified feel.
The challenges were with her collaborators. Instrumentally, they were solid, especially 60-ish bassist Gary Raynor and 30-something drummer Noah Levy, who was versatile and perfectly Ringo-like when necessary. That was required when his 40-something brother, guitarist Adam Levy, of Honeydogs fame, took lead vocals. Adam essentially did rote versions of “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” and “I Am the Walrus,” among others. In an ensemble starring Evingson, more creativity was expected.
Keyboardist Alicia Wiley, the youngster in this ad hoc group at age 28, tried to use her imagination on a couple of vocal turns but she doesn’t have the experience or the chops to compete with Connie, who is in her 50s.
As an inveterate music fan said to me at the concert, “This is not Curtiss A.” Indeed. This was part of the Jazz at the Jungle series.