Annekei - Rockwood Music Hall, 11/27/07 & 1/30/08
On first encounter at Rockwood last November, Annekei seemed almost too good to be true. Having heard nothing and knowing nothing about her, I was completely knocked out by her soulful jazz singing (or was it her jazzy soul singing), and her superb band. So a return trip to Rockwood was in order at the next opportunity to find out if she was really as great as she seemed, and I'm here to say that based on last night's Rockwood show, Annekei is all that and more.
Annekei is originally from Denmark, moved to New York City in 2002 at the age of 19 to pursue a music career, won a talent competition on the Showtime at the Apollo television show, and while she still remains mostly unknown in this country, Annekei has a successful recording career in Asia and Europe, with two excellent albums released in Japan. When she's not off performing in the aforementioned continents or singing for the King of Thailand as she recently did at the Bangkok Jazz Festival, she can be found playing occasional gigs at Rockwood, and working as a lounge singer and waitress at the Waldorf Astoria.
Listen to Annekei - "100 Sq.Ft."
Hers is already a most unusual and fascinating life story but what needs no explanation is Annekei's huge talent as a singer, musician (piano and guitar) and songwriter, and the quality of her performance with her band is stunning. While she's billed as a soul and jazz singer, in the two encounters at Rockwood she seems totally capable of singing any style of music she chooses including soul, jazz, blues, gospel, rock, pop, and standards.
Jeff Smith, 1/30/08
Benny Reitvold, 1/30/08
At both shows, she was accompanied by fantastic band mates Vernon (Jeff) Smith who plays masterful guitar and doubles on sax and other instruments, and bassist and bandleader Benny Reitvold. Fred Alias anchored the band on drums for the November show but was sidelined with a last minute injury and missed last night's gig. Joining Annekei for a few numbers at the November show were guest vocalists Dean Bowman who sang a most awesome duet with Annekei covering the Carpenters' "Close to You" (wish we had a recording of that to hear again), and Rhonda Denet who could hold a room just with her beautiful voice.
Dean Bowman & Annekei
(L-R) Jeff Smith, Annekei, Rhonda Denet
Last night's show had no guests or drummer, but was no less of a jaw-dropper. The excellent set included Annekei's own songs as well as covers of John Legend's "Ordinary People" and the showstopping set closer "Mercy Mercy Mercy" performed in tribute to the late Joe Zawinul (Weather Report) who wrote it. These shows so need to be recorded - this music is way too good to be heard once only to disappear into the ether.
Listen to "Everly" from Tsuki (2007)
Thus far I've heard about a dozen of Annekei's songs from various online sources and the quality is completely consistent with her live show. I totally can't wait to hear her two Japanese CD's. A duet album with a Korean guitarist, Jack Lee, is due this spring. Annekei is an supremely talented artist whose future career potential is huge. Words can't adequately express what a privilege and a pleasure it is to see an artist like Annekei at an intimate venue like the Rockwood Music Hall. Photos are from 11/29/07 except where noted, click photos to enlarge.
Annekei (Zain Records, 2006)
Tsuki (Zain Records, 2007)