Bay Ridge, Brooklyn crooner Martin McQuade performed a selection of classic swing jazz favorites from the Great American Songbook at Gulf Coast restaurant on Sunday, August 7, 2016. Hallmarked as “Songs for a Summer Day,” McQuade was accompanied by keyboardist/vocalist Pete Sokolow as he lured his audience into a repertoire that celebrated breezy summer days and budding romances, persuading onlookers with a mood to enjoy the Caribbean atmosphere of the supper club, complete with rustic wood floorboards, Key West-style ceiling fans, and island-inspired decor.
Opening with Chubby Checker’s signature tune “Let’s Twist Again,” McQuade elicited smiles from his audience, some of whom flaunted fond memories of grooving to the fan favorite during its heyday. The slow burner “Got a Lot of Living to Do” flexed McQuade’s versatility to move from mid-tempo numbers to creamy-textured ballads, drifting into Cole Porter’s lighthearted ditty “Too Darn Hot” from the musical Kiss Me, Kate and brandishing a ragtime flourish equipped with playful dramatics on McQuade’s part as he acted out the lyrics by fanning himself and swooning as though the cool temperature of the room was sweltering hot.
McQuade engaged his audience with a four-tier medley of relaxing summer day-spun tunes, starting with the wispy ballad “Lazy Afternoon” from the 1954 musical The Golden Apple. The deep timbres of his register were modulated to vibrate a dreamy voicing as he solicited, “Come spend this lazy afternoon with me.”
The mellow sonorous of “Lazy Day” – made popular by Bing Crosby and guitarist Eddie Lang – exhibited reverence and sophistication in McQuade’s vocal strokes, while the mid-tempo toe-tapping “Lazy River” was fashioned with a ragtime flare. The vaunting rhythm of “Be Lazy” glistened a picturesque ambience, enticing listeners to dive into the oasis-toned imaginings of the lyrics.
Moving into a tribute to classic jazz tunesmith Hoagy Carmichael, the Tin Pan Alley number “Lazybones” was helmed by Sokolow on keys and lead vocals as he tempered the hoarse vocalese of Louie Armstrong to a beefy purr. His caterwauling along “Rockin’ Chair” emerged intermittently beside McQuade, who sang the main theme with a refined inflection.
Harnessing a jumping swing-imbued chassis on “Route 66,” the duo held a captive audience, building up the momentum with the percolating boogie woogie rhythm of “Chattanooga Choo Choo,” originally written by Harry Warren and Mack Gordon. The pair’s rendition of the bluesy melody “Old Cape Cod” infused a calming seaside lull compatible with McQuade’s brandy wine-colored intonations, and it transitioned seamlessly into the catchy swing-chime hooks of “Mountain Greenery,” which was composed by the prolific Richard Rodgers.
McQuade finessed the nasally pout of Buddy Hackett in “Hello Muddah Hello Fadduh (A Letter from Camp),” which he alternated with a lamenting pitch reminiscent of Phantom of the Opera’s former leading man, Michael Crawford. The smooth fluid swells of “P.S. I Love You” was buffed to a Tony Bennett-like poise, seguing into the balmy swing-plumed motifs of “Love Letters in the Sand.”
The duo closed the set with two upbeat nocturnes, Frank Loesser’s “Standing on the Corner” and Roy Turk and Fred Ahlert’s “Walking My Baby Back Home,” leaving their audience influenced by thoughts of warm summer romances, whether with another person or the season itself. This incited cheerfulness and a festive spirit, making it easy to be in love with the rusticating vibes of summer days.
The repertoire laden with swing, blues, ragtime, boogie woogie, and classic jazz templates had audience members reveling the warmth of summer, letting its lounging visions engulf them. McQuade and Sokolow presented melodies that they performed with reverence for the writers and an affinity for the jazz-based genres.