In its last day of serving the best of Russian cuisine and music from the cabaret scene, the Firebird Café presented a low-key but exciting evening with the illustrious Quinn Lemley. Accompanied with her are director James Sampliner, drummer Peter Retzlaff, and bassist Dave d'Ambrosia presenting an intense seance of glamour and sensual fury.
Quinn is one of the scene's best-kept secrets. She did shows in the Algonquin Hotel, the Metronome in downtown Manhattan, and has recorded four albums. However, you really have to dig right in and find out more about the hard-working artists in the cabarets of New York before you can find Ms. Lemley. Either that or you can watch "Broadway Beat" on public access television (web site: http://www.broadwaybeat.com), find out that she is a hot redhead in the vein of Rita Hayworth, and you'll want to hear her sing.
Throughout the evening, Quinn has shown us her the charm in pieces - for starters she has enthusiasm, yearning, and choreography for her body as well as her natural red hair. Channeling Julie London, Lemley and Retzlaff gave a rendition of Cole Porter's "In The Still of the Night" that is everything but - the uptempo Latin-American approach resembled my heartbeats. A lot of songs were sung with the mindset of a temptress (especially "I Wanna be Evil" and "You Go To My Head"), but Bob McDowell's "Destination: Sunrise" and Thelonius Monk's "'Round Midnight" drove us back to reality of yearning and heartbreak.
And right when Quinn has all of her act together, one song can't contain everything. "Why Don't You Do Right?" (a tribute to the late Peggy Lee) and the classic "Put the Blame on Mame" from the Rita Hayworth film Gilda were only enough to hold the physicality and the bass-riding voice together without overloading the senses.