Rosita Kess / Rockwood Music Hall / New York, NY / August 13

Rosita Kess at Rockwood Music Hall
Photo by George Kopp

Singer/songwriter Rosita Kess has traveled the world and her music reflects the many musical styles she has encountered. This was evident during the second show of her three-week residency at Rockwood Music Hall. In a tight, 45-minute set she took her audience from Paris to Rio de Janeiro to New Orleans, playing both guitar and piano, accompanied by a trio of accomplished New York City musicians. A key member of her band – multi-instrumentalist Doug Wieselman – was missing, but Brian Mitchell on accordion, Bill Dobrow on drums, and Kess’ husband, Richard Julian, on guitar and vocals ably filled in.  With few exceptions, the songs were from her album F.L.O.Y.D. (For Love of Your Desire).

Photo by George Kopp
Photo by George Kopp

The international theme was immediately established with “Le Jeu de Hasard,” a charming discourse on the vagaries of love that Kess sang in both French and Italian; Mitchell’s accordion flawlessly supplying the feel of the Paris streets. The mood turned darker on “Gray Rain,” with Dobrow’s insistent rhythm under her wailing vocals, as well as “Mud and Gold,” an exorcism of a personal betrayal. Both tracks reveal the emotional versatility of Kess’ captivating voice. The delicate samba “Quero Ser Feliz,” sung in Portuguese, turned the subject back to love and happiness, before Julian joined his wife onstage for a tongue-in-cheek duet of Iggy Pop’s “Sick of You.” Kess moved to piano for “Creole Moon” and a reverent “Southern Nights,” with Julian joining on guitar. The whole band cooked in a fitting tribute to New Orleans, where she recorded the the album.

-Kay Cordtz

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