There’s a meeting for hopeless addicts that happens once a month on 51st Street and Broadway, as those souls who need their fix descend a narrow stair to a dark basement room. Huddling there by the glow of a blue sign, they can be seen shaking and howling with others who share the habit they can’t quit. “I’ve Got You Under My Skin” can be heard in the air, and all commiserate. That habit is attending the blazing musical performances of a dynamo named Terese Genecco and her band whose high-powered act and the happiness conveyed by them creates the desire to have more, more, more and they return, return, return, some staying for the early show and the late show. “Infectious energy” would be putting it mildly – it does get “under your skin,” with the drug of choice being pulse-quickening music.
There are blaring horns, wild bongos and more, playing socko arrangements as Terese belts, wails, struts, swings, jokes and rocks the room in a way that makes her audiences willing victims of her seductive steamroller style. The aforementioned shaking is the Genecco-generated genuinely joyful jumping around, and the howling is whooping and cheering that comes with the applause and grinning. It’s easy to see why she has a following, especially as it’s never the same old same old, since she’s also introducing new numbers, guest performers, and when she does her commanding command performance on the last Tuesday of each month, the first and second set are totally different. No wonder she keeps getting held over, celebrates the first-year anniversary mark on March 30, and was voted as the Outstanding Female Vocalist by MAC, the Manhattan Association of Cabarets and Clubs, and also won a Bistro Award.
This Tuesday, her one-year anniversary celebration at the Iridium will feature special guest Mark Winkler, the jazzy and wry singer and songwriter. Expect from Terese some slyness and sass, some samples of standards infused with quicksilver jazz and swing with her great band. Sets can be packed with Rat Pack punch, such as the zippy “Ain’t That a Kick in the Head,” and songs plucked from her repertoire of numbers tailored for her idol, the sassy and irrepressible night club entertainer Frances Faye. Her tribute show to Faye was a hit and, recorded live, became her first CD. References to that project on the internet have caused some Faye fans to stumble upon her and become Genecco fans, too. Terese has also recently acquired some orchestrations that began in the hands of Frank Sinatra. Not bad. Recent collaborators have included drummer/ bandleader Mike Berkowitz, who also works with another Genecco idol, Liza Minnelli. She likes the lady’s gene pool, too, with some Judy Garland in her musical cocktail mix along with some Sammy Davis, Jr. Sometimes, much more than some --- like borrowing his thrilling medley from West Side Story with just percussion accompaniment. With her band, she’s saucy and bossy (in a winking way) as she asks them in solos to play a “crazy” lick or drum roll or, “Go really, really low and then really, really high.” Or is it those rabid, cheering fans who get crazy and really, really high on all this high-flying crazy rhythm? It should be stressed that she doesn’t copy the vocal sounds of any of these singers, she just walks around or stomps around in their footprints or basic blueprints of their great arrangements.
Her specially-written revamp of “I Heard It Through the Grapevine,” created for the MAC Awards show, has been kept in her repertoire as microwaved Motown magic. Her latest identity theft is a show of Elvis Presley’s songs, working with just guitarist supreme Sean Harkness, whom she has also so wisely kidnapped to be part of her Iridium band.
Not one to be content to rest on her laurels or ever phoning anything in (quite the opposite indeed!!), Terese is always looking for new ideas, new songs, new musicians, new guests and new ways to network and get work. When a regular musician is not available one Tuesday, she loves working in someone new and rehearsing with him, seeing how the new person brings a new flavor and personality to the family. And she’s welcoming and friendly as she works at winning over first-time audience members who might be tourists who wandered in out of curiosity while strolling along Broadway or were brought by a friend who is a returnee. And the addiction grows. Check it out. Come to a meeting.
My name is Rob and I am a Geneccoholic.
And just today, it was announced at a MAC press conference that Terese Genecco has been nominated for another MAC Award, particularly notable because her visibility and success have caused her to be re-categorized in the Major Artist field.