Manhattan Beach

A night to remember: On stage at Kingsborough’s Ella!

February 13, 2017 By Scott Enman Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Winter Storm Niko didn’t stop a sold-out crowd from coming to On Stage At Kingsborough on Friday to admire Award-winning vocalist and Croatian-American jazz singer Thana Alexa as Eran Fink of the Israeli 12th Night Jazz Quarter admires her performance. Photos by Kevin R. Mason

As much as the Brooklyn Eagle lives for a good party, there are very few performances on Earth worth getting off the couch for during a blizzard.

On Stage At Kingsborough’s “Ella!” was an exception. While the majority of Brooklynites were cozying up in front of the fire over Valentine’s Day weekend, dozens of fearless jazz lovers ventured into the artic to brave Winter Storm Niko in what was an unforgettable evening.

The sold-out tribute to Ella Fitzgerald took place in a modern-day lighthouse on the campus of Kingsborough Community College in Manhattan Beach and featured outstanding music, wine, cheese and breathtaking views of the sea.

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Friday’s event featured award-winning vocalist and Croatian-American jazz singer Thana Alexa and the acclaimed Israeli 12th Night Jazz Quartet. The show highlighted Fitzgerald’s journey from her debut performance at the Apollo Theater’s Amateur Night to her groundbreaking career as one of the most celebrated jazz artists of the 20th century.

“It was just such a beautiful venue with the glass windows all around, overlooking the water,” Alexa told the Eagle. “And it was a lunar eclipse so it was just a crazy coming together of energies and coincidences. It was really great.

“As the sun was setting when we started performing, everybody could see out on either side of us and watch the sunset, which was really something special.”

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Alexa’s specialty, like Fitzgerald’s, is scat singing.

On Stage At Kingsborough is a year-round performance series that brings world-class artists to southern Brooklyn at an affordable price. It strives to bring in entertainers who are leaders in their particular discipline, including dance, theater, music and family entertainment. Recent concerts include dance companies from Russia and Spain, a children’s theater from London and a plethora of Broadway stars.

On Stage At Kingsborough has three venues: a fully equipped main stage, a 1,100-seat outdoor band shell where free summer concerts are held and the lighthouse.

What makes On Stage At Kingsborough unique from other companies is the personal nature of its performances, particularly when MusicTalks founder and award-winning musician Elad Kabilio hosts. MusicTalks is an organization that attempts to break down barriers between musicians and the audience by taking advantage of the intimacy that music provides and hosting shows in close-knit environments.

“[Kabilio] talks in a very engaging way about Ella’s career and how the music came to be and what was innovative about Ella as a musician,” said Executive Director of On Stage At Kingsborough Anna Becker. “Thana was also very engaging and very personal so its not only that you get an inside look … but you also feel a real connection with the musicians.

“[Kabilio] will stop things and have the pianist or the saxophonist play a certain part of a tune to demonstrate something about the music and then they’ll go back to the whole tune again. You really feel like you’re getting to know everybody and getting to know the music in a really personal way in an intimate room. To me, that’s what makes it very special, but also very unique as a jazz event.”

 

On March 25, the Argentinian dance company Che Malambo will be coming to On Stage At Kingsborough’s main stage. For tickets and more information on upcoming performances, visit onstageatkingsborough.org.


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