New Jersey Stage
New Jersey Stage on social media


Big News! New Jersey Stage To Produce Three Fall 2019 Season Preview Guides
Click here for the story!

“She Makes You Believe!” Gabrielle Stravelli LIVE! at the Grunin Center

By Spotlight Central

originally published: 09/29/2018

“She Makes You Believe!” Gabrielle Stravelli LIVE! at the Grunin Center

The crowd is rapidly making its way inside Toms River, NJ’s Grunin Center of the Arts this Saturday, September 15, 2018 evening for I Walk with Music, a concert devoted to the music of composers Johnny Mercer and Hoagy Carmichael, presented by singer, songwriter, and actress Gabrielle Stravelli.

Stravelli began singing professionally at the age of 15 as a soloist with the New Jersey-based Orchestra of St. Peter by the Sea led by Father Alphonse Stephenson, and has since performed on stages from Azerbaijan to New York at venues including Birdland. In 2017, Stravelli released her third album, Dream Ago, which garnered rave reviews from DownBeat, The Huffington Post, and others. Highlights of her work in recent years include traveling the world as a United States Department of State “Jazz Ambassador,” in addition to touring the country with Wynton Marsalis and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra.

As we wait for tonight’s show to begin, we chat with two Gabrielle Stravelli fans in the audience who tell us a little bit about their favorite performer.

Says Joe from Flanders, “Gabrielle Stravelli is awesome! We went to her CD release party — she has a terrific voice — and the chemistry between Gabrielle and her bass player, Pat O’Leary, is amazing!”

Joe’s friend, Paul from Lavallette, agrees, adding, “A couple of years ago we saw her perform at Birdland to a packed house. As soon as I heard her sing, I welled up — her voice affects me that much emotionally.”



The article continues after this ad

 


As the auditorium lights begin to dim, three musicians — pianist Art Hirahara, bassist Pat O’Leary, and drummer Eric Halvorson — take their places at their instruments and softly begin to tune before Gabrielle Stravelli takes the stage.

Opening with a jazzy version of “How Little We Know,” Stravelli’s voice sounds bright, rich, and full as she’s expertly accompanied by her trio on this upbeat tune which features a lively Art Hirahara piano solo.

“She Makes You Believe!” Gabrielle Stravelli LIVE! at the Grunin Center

Following avid applause, Stravelli welcomes the crowd and tells them about how her parents always had “great music” playing in her home while she was growing up including such favorites as Ella Fitzgerald and Frank Sinatra, in addition to works of opera and musical theater.

After telling the audience a bit about Johnny Mercer and Hoagy Carmichael — revealing that both were singers with a “laid-back rural charm” with “Mercer coming from Savannah, Georgia, and Carmichael from Indiana” — Stravelli performs the Oscar-winning song from the 1951 film, Here Comes the Groom, entitled “In the Cool, Cool, Cool of the Evening.”

“She Makes You Believe!” Gabrielle Stravelli LIVE! at the Grunin Center

Opening with Art Hirahara doing double duty playing the grand piano with his left hand and blowing into a tube while depressing the keys of a small mouth organ with his right, Stravelli and company impress the crowd with their arrangement of this classic Sinatra tune which features a cool samba rhythm.

Drummer Eric Halvorson is featured on “The Rhumba Jumps,” a barnburner which features Stravelli crooning, “‘Cause when the drummer boy thumps/The rhumba jumps!”

“She Makes You Believe!” Gabrielle Stravelli LIVE! at the Grunin Center

Gabrielle follows up by performing the crowd-pleaser, “Everything Happens to Me.” On this clever number about mishaps, Stravelli shows off her scat singing skills, trading scats as Hirahara’s piano echoes her in a rapid fire give-and-take!

“She Makes You Believe!” Gabrielle Stravelli LIVE! at the Grunin Center

The audience applauds and Stravelli goes on to show off her versatility and range with an emotional interpretation of “Whistling Away the Dark.” Singing, “Often I think my poor old heart has given up for good/ And then I see a brand new face/I glimpse some new neighborhood,” on the coda, Gabrielle shows her vocal control as she skillfully and softly holds out the last note.

Singing a Johnny Mercer song which was once used in an episode of the Peter Gunn television show, Stravelli performs “Day In, Day Out,” and she follows that up with a finger-snapping rendition of “Charade.”

“She Makes You Believe!” Gabrielle Stravelli LIVE! at the Grunin Center

A highlight of the evening is a performance of a number from the film, Breakfast at Tiffanys — a song which Stravelli reveals “was almost cut from the movie.” Taking liberties with the composition and bringing it to new heights are Stravelli on vocals and Pat O’Leary on bass, as they provide a unique and creative “stripped-down” take on “Moon River.”

“She Makes You Believe!” Gabrielle Stravelli LIVE! at the Grunin Center

Another enduring classic is Hoagy Carmichael’s “Stardust,” which begins with Stravelli’s voice sounding smooth and sultry before becoming clear and succinct as she beautifully maneuvers around the composition’s classic melody. Her instrument captivating the audience with her warmth and breath control, the performance also features a thoughtful Art Hirahara piano solo.

After her trio has fun keeping up with her vocal on “One Morning in May” — a piece which features expert around-the-beat drumming by Eric Halvorson — Stravelli performs a Pat O’Leary arrangement of “Baltimore Oriole” which boasts a brilliant piano solo by Art Hirahara.

“She Makes You Believe!” Gabrielle Stravelli LIVE! at the Grunin Center

Revealing that Johnny Mercer wrote 1500 tunes and, at one point, “had a song in the Top 10 every week of the year!” Stravelli and company perform an appealing medley of Mercer hits including “Come Rain or Come Shine,” “P.S. I Love You,” “Goody Goody,” and many more. Filled with multiple changes of styles and tempos, the audience reacts with enthusiastic cheers and applause for this entertaining amalgamation!

“She Makes You Believe!” Gabrielle Stravelli LIVE! at the Grunin Center

After thanking her band, Stravelli concludes her performance this evening with one of her favorite pieces, “I Walk with Music.” Her superb diction, inflection, and interpretation inspire the audience to applaud and cheer for a job well done!

For an encore, Stravelli treats the crowd to a lovely and touching rendition of Hoagy Carmichael’s beautiful “Skylark,” her vocal styling featuring her beautiful tone and inflection which inspires a standing ovation from the Grunin Center crowd!

“She Makes You Believe!” Gabrielle Stravelli LIVE! at the Grunin Center

As audience members make their way out of the auditorium, we take a moment to chat with Gabrielle Stravelli, who talks about performing here at the Grunin Center stating, “This is a beautiful room, and the staff here is so professional. It’s so nice to play at a performing arts center like this.”

In discussing the material she presented tonight, Stravelli notes, “I love to know the stories behind the songs I sing,” before suggesting, “The role that singers play is so interesting — we are an instrument and we are interpreters — so we’re the link in the room between the song and the audience.”

When asked about playing to crowds here in the Garden State, Stravelli exclaims, “The best thing about playing in New Jersey is people come who knew me since I was a kid!” before concluding, “It’s incredible and really special to have people cheering me on in the audience. It’s so touching to see!”

We also chat with several members of the audience who share their opinions of tonight’s performance with us.

Comments Pat from Vauxhall, “Gabrielle Stravelli was superb! She has a wonderful instrument — when she performs, magic happens. She’s absolutely sensational and her band is fantastic!”

“She Makes You Believe!” Gabrielle Stravelli LIVE! at the Grunin Center

Adding, “We drove last night to Lancaster, Pennsylvania, to see her perform a Willie Nelson show,” Pat continues, “We’re going to keep seeing her. We love her — she has a magnificent voice and she knows what to do with it.”

Whereas Mary from Lakewood remarks, “She’s so talented,” Gloria from Lakewood exclaims, “She has a wonderful voice — it’s lovely!”

Donna from Chatham contends, “Gabrielle Stravelli is extraordinary — she’s in a class by herself,” while Tony from Toms River declares, “Gabrielle Stravelli is just marvelous — she’s a tremendous talent.”

We also get a chance to catch up with Paul from Lavallette, with whom we spoke before the show, who comments, “As usual, Gabrielle didn’t miss a note tonight — her vocal control was a perfect compliment to the playing of the instruments.”

And, lastly, we chat with Father Scott — a priest from Toms River — who says, “Gabrielle provides listeners with an excellent invitation into a time and period that we don’t hear often enough. When her voice takes over, it’s exhilarating — she inhabits a song and she makes you believe!”

“She Makes You Believe!” Gabrielle Stravelli LIVE! at the Grunin Center

To learn more about Gabrielle Stravelli, please go to gabriellestravelli.com. For information on upcoming performances at Ocean County College’s Grunin Center of the Arts — including female country artists Farewell Angelina on Oct. 6 and Broadway’s Mandy Gonzalez on November 2 — please click on grunincenter.org.


Photos by Love Imagery

Spotlight Central. Your source for Jersey entertainment news and reviews

Love Imagery Fine Art Photography. all you need. peace/love/flower/power





For more by this author, click here



More Articles You Might Like

Shawn Mendes To Perform At Prudential Center
Shawn Mendes To Perform At Prudential Center
New Kids On The Block To Perform In Newark With Salt-N-Pepa, Tiffany, Debbie Gibson, and Naughty by Nature
New Kids On The Block To Perform In Newark With Salt-N-Pepa, Tiffany, Debbie Gibson, and Naughty by Nature
Iron Maiden Announces 2 Local Dates
Iron Maiden Announces 2 Local Dates
Train and Goo Goo Dolls To Perform In Camden and Holmdel
Train and Goo Goo Dolls To Perform In Camden and Holmdel
Backstreet Boys To Perform In Newark
Backstreet Boys To Perform In Newark
Papa Roach To Perform At Stone Pony
Papa Roach To Perform At Stone Pony






Event calendar
Thursday, Jun 20, 2019


MUSIC

RICK DAHROUGE @ The Saint, Asbury Park - 7:30pm

Dead & Company @ BB&T Pavilion, Camden - 7:00pm

Charlie Daniels Band, Travis Tritt, and The Cadillac Three @ PNC Bank Arts Center, Holmdel - 7:00pm

Jefferson Starship @ The Newton Theatre, Newton - 8:00pm


THEATRE

Heisenberg @ Cape May Stage, Cape May - 8:00pm

Voyager One @ New Jersey Repertory Company, Long Branch - 8:00pm

Musical | She Loves Me (The Princeton Festival) @ 185 Nassau St., Princeton, Princeton - 8:00pm

American Theater Group: The Bridges of Madison County @ South Orange Performing Arts Center (SOPAC), South Orange - 7:30pm

The Boys in the Band (Original Version) @ Studio Playhouse Upper Montclair, Upper Montclair - 8:00pm







FILM

Crybaby Matinee: The Red Balloon & White Mane @ Hopewell Theater, Hopewell - 11:00am


LECTURE

An Evening With George Takei: Where No Story Has Gone Before @ State Theatre New Jersey, New Brunswick - 8:00pm


MISC

A Medium Gallery with Linda Shields @ Tim McLoones Supper Club, Asbury Park - 8:00pm

View all events










 






















For more on our awards, click here








New Jersey Stage © 2019 by Wine Time Media, LLC | PO Box 140, Spring Lake, NJ 07762 (732) 280-7625 | info@newjerseystage.com

Images used on this site have been sent to us from publicists, artists, and PR firms.
If there is a problem with the rights to any image, please contact us and we will look into the matter.