“Standing center stage and elegantly dressed in black, she begins her opening song, Irving Berlin’s "Let Me Sing." It’s easy to see right from the first notes why Sue Matsuki was honored with a MAC Award for Female Jazz Vocalist 2001. Her new show with Gregory Toroian, is called "Jam n’ Toasts" and took New Hope by storm when it played the Cabaret Room at Odette’s.
Deftly directed by Carolyn Montgomery, "Jam n’ Toasts" presents a great group of tunes after each one is set up by "here’s to you" style toasts. Toasts to the many men in her life from her stepfather, "The Greatest Many I Never Knew" (by Leigh and Matine Jr.) to her biological father with "Speaking of Happiness" written by Scott and Radcliffe). The evening was a well packaged mix of Berlin, Bricusse and Mancini, Mercer and Whiting, Mercer and Rowles, Elvis Costello, Jay Leonhart and Carly Simon.
Capturing the audience’s emotion with the songs is key and Sue Matsuki did just that is this hour plus show. With infectious spirit, love for the material and knowledge of the lyrics, Matsuki & Montgomery have crafted a terrific show. Most impressive was Gregory Toroian’s flawless arrangements and Sue Matsuki’s understated vocals on "Have You Got Any Castles, Baby?" Her slow, drawn out treatment of Carly Simon’s hit tune "Anticipation" was perfection.
Clear, Clean and concise, Matsuki was never over the top on her vocal arrangements. Even the comedic "The Couple From Duluth" by Leonhart was funny and cleverly delivered. So much so, that most of the audience wondered if the couple from Duluth was in attendance that evening.
Most of Sue Matsuki’s program echoed the theme of her MAC nominated CD, "A New Take." All of her arrangement had a jazz styling to them and were sung with a different slant and arrangements than we are used to hearing. Smooth and sensitive, she was fresh and delivered both patter and song effortlessly. This is a tribute to her seven year collaboration with Gregory Toroian, who proved to be an extraordinarily talented pianist and arranger.
From her opening song through her encore of "Here’s to Life," Matsuki and Toroian provided an evening of infectious cabaret. I enjoyed the show and wish I could have listened to her inviting voice for another hour. By all means, go and see Sue Matsuki perform.”
Richard Edgecomb & Stephen Hart, CabaretHotlineOnLine, PA Reviewers