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Spencer Day delights packed house at Jazz Alley
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Spencer Day delights packed house at Jazz Alley

by Albert Rodriguez - SGN A&E Writer

Spencer Day
Dimitriou's Jazz Alley
November 2


The first line of my review of Spencer Day's previous Seattle concert read like this: 'This kid is going places.' And you know what? He has, he really has.

In the four months since his last visit to the Emerald City, the young artist debuted atop Billboard's jazz album chart, performed on late-night television, toured across the country, and managed to fill Dimitriou's Jazz Alley, the exact spot where he played to roughly two-thirds of the venue this summer. There wasn't even a bar stool available in the bi-level nightclub on Monday night.

Billed as a 'secret show' for faithful listeners and club members of local radio station 98.9 KWJZ, the evening got underway with Day hopping onstage and singing "Til You Come to Me," the leadoff track from his chart-topping record Vagabond. Dressed in gray trousers with matching vest and a lavender shirt, the Utah native then forged into a brand-new song titled "White Picket Fences."

This week's show got off to a mellower start than July's performance, which incidentally took place on an afternoon of record-breaking heat - in fact, Day confessed to soaking his underwear in cool water that night and falling asleep on the balcony of his band's rented room. He gradually picked up the momentum of Monday's concert, however, and by the time he wrapped things up, the crowd was cheering at top volume and throwing whistles left and right.

Day confidently glided through several numbers from Vagabond, including the title track, "Little Soldier," "Someday," and the finely arranged "Joe." Missing in action this time around was Crystal Monee Hall, who provided deep, soulful pipes in the background last July - guitarist Yair Evnine offered some vocal support here, yet he just wasn't as effective. Seattle-based drummer Brad Boal was called in on percussion - literally, as he hadn't even rehearsed one song with the ensemble before going onstage. Matt Aronoff, striking as usual and surprisingly more tanned, rounded out the four-piece on bass.

Little sleep and a tight travel itinerary - Day landed just hours before his appearance - took its toll on the charismatic performer, who resorted to silly humor and liberal banter throughout the show. He introduced the song "Taken" as a song inspired by the temptation to cheat on your partner, going as far as telling the crowd that all is well if a couple has "a certain understanding" about a non-monogamous relationship. Later in his set, just before a Buddy Holly cover, Day said that he and Aronoff had "played with it" in their hotel room, then promptly explained to the giggling audience it was "nothing funny, just the song!"

Even funnier was when the lean, tall musician asked if anyone at the Jazz Alley was on a date, then pointed to one table and asked, "The three of you? Let me know how that goes." He also admitted to working as an art model in Rome for a summer, which came completely out of thin air.

Displaying his whimsical side, Day played two quirky numbers called "Mary Lincoln's Last Night Out" and "Poor Marie" - the latter was penned after he'd seen the Sofia Coppola flick Marie Antoinette on a flight home from France.

For a two-song encore, Day covered The Association's "Never My Love," again. It was uninspiring back in July, but - showing his maturity as a live performer - the ballad had more shimmer this time, and I actually really liked it, as opposed to criticizing it harshly on the last go-round. "Movie of Your Life" closed out Day's 90-minute special gig, bowing repeatedly at the finish to a more-than-satisfied full house.

The greats of today's pop-jazz scene - Norah Jones, Michael Buble, Diana Krall - had to start somewhere, and they all had to have that certain sparkle early in their career, that promise and potential of becoming something truly special. Spencer Day's got it too, and I guarantee he'll be even bigger and a whole lot better on his next return to Seattle.

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