O c t o b e r   2 0 0 2

Aural Report

Ever more sophisticated ways to relax
Mary Kadderly and the Yat Sing Music Club
by Kurt Dahlke

ounge jazz and traditional Chinese music really aren't that far apart. Depending upon one's outlook, these two disparate music types might seem to serve identical purposes, and today only a few short blocks separate them.

Consider the hapless couple, back in big, raging Portland-town after two solid weeks in the coastal countryside, hiking and reading books by the fire. Reality is much more simple when your biggest concern is which of three new books to read first.

But they must eventually come home, and then a deadline looms, and they have to battle Sunday traffic (Sunday?!) to find music to write about. After an extensive battle with a parking spot and some senior citizens in a white Cadillac, my wife and I stagger to the sidewalk, winding up in front of the Yat Sing Music Club in Chinatown.

Enriched and becalmed: Mary Kadderly follows 15 minutes of spacing out with the Yat Sing Music Club.

Entrancing, alien tones emanate from the open door, through which we see a few older gentlemen playing weird instruments. My wife asks if we can listen, and a nice lady invites us in.

Wood paneling, fluorescent lights and Chinese holiday banners form the Elks-club-circa-1970 vibe that permeates the group's rehearsal hall.

The hypnotic music they play predates their space by a few centuries.

They play their tune with exotic stringed instruments (bowed and plucked), wood blocks, tiny gongs, plaintive vocals and saxophone – and all done by five older guys with serious musical skills, as shown by the fact that they're all reading complicated charts in Chinese.

After 15 minutes of spacing out with the Yat Sing, we feel much calmer. The song finally ends, we clap, and the lady thanks us for listening. I ask if we can listen to another tune. "Thank you," she says.

She says "thank you" again when I ask a second time, so we leave – feeling quite enriched and becalmed, however, by the experience.

Charming and disarming: Kadderly mixes sweet and sardonic in a delicious way.

We're really on the way to see Mary Margaret Kadderly playing cleanup at the "free concert" capping off the Race For The Cure breast cancer benefit at Portland's Saturday Market.

The words "free" and "concert," without a famous name attached to them, generally describe events like today's; the music is in public, people drift through eating taco salads listening to a song or two, and the performers are loose.

Which is great, of course – especially with Kadderly, Portland's retort to Diana Krall.

In person, Kadderly is affable and goofy enough; you can imagine her chewing tobacco and talking sports with the guys. Put a keyboard in front of her at a nothing-to-lose gig such as this and witness the quiet storm, sassy and soooo smooooth. Her stage patter mixes sweet and sardonic in a delicious way, her cues to Gary the guitarist are broad. It's unpretentious, professional fun.

Kadderly, in black blazer, white T-shirt, dark glasses and adidas running pants, sits bobbing her head to the beat. A young Rosemary Clooney meets Miami Vice, perhaps.

Her casual attitude is charming and disarming. While playing her Korg keyboard with a nice buttery tone, Kadderly's jazzy chord changes and definitive low-end phrases are forced into the background by her really beautiful voice.

Bang zoom: Click to visit Kadderly's Web site, and for a closer look at her 1999 release of original material.

Even when cooing suave, airy treats – marveling at what she found on her "Love Reconnaissance," for instance – her sultry range and perfect phrasing transcend the experience.

Another exaggerated cue signals the onset of a short-but-sweet guitar solo, and the calm fully settles over us. What a beautiful setup, ancient Chinese meditation music, then going zoom to the soulful jazz vocals of Mary Kadderly, who should be playing rooftop bars for the elite of World Society.

The city knows it has a stress problem; luckily, its people rise to the challenge, coming up with ever more sophisticated ways to relax.

E-mail Kurt at orangeandorange@msn.com, and don't miss his previous reports.

site design / management / host: ae
© 2001-2005 nwdrizzle.com / all rights reserved.