Christine Rosholt at the Dakota Jazz Club

Christine Rosholt - Photo by Ann Marsden

Wednesday evening, the Dakota Jazz Club was warm and inviting.  It provided a much-needed shelter during Christine Rosholt‘s release show for her new CD Lipstick-Live at the Dakota Jazz Club.  Having already begun the first set when we arrived, the venue was completely full and there was hardly a table to be found.  Finding our way to the balcony, my friend and I nestled in to a table for two and immediately ordered glasses of Canaletto Pinot Noir.  Our eyes lit up as we took our first sip and allowed our minds relax and fill with jazz.  We instantly forgot about the still and dry winter outside.  Rosholt and her band mates, Tanner Taylor – piano, Graydon Peterson – upright bass, Jay Epstein – drums, and Dave Karr – sax and flute were just beginning a night of cleverly-arranged jazz standards.

We ordered up the Baja shrimp & Blue Crab cakes with jicama, orange and tomatillo cocktail sauce, followed that with the Hearts of Romaine Cesar with Ceyenne Croutons, and ended up with the Seared Marine Diver Scallops with carmelized cauliflower risotto, lobster velouté with chervil. Perfectly prepared, the food at The Dakota is nearly as much a part of the show as the music. 

After finishing our lavish feast, we made our way down to the main floor and cozied in to one of the circular booths right in front of the stage.  Clad in modern-day ruby red slippers, i.e., sexy patent leather red heels, and sporting her signature baby bangs, Rosholt worked the room with her eyes and expressions, singing to members of the audience and gesturing to them so as to invite them into the performance.  She even conducted a sing-a-long and sincerely approved, “very nice,” which garnered at least a chuckle.  Nevertheless, her connection with the band was apparent as she concentrated on them when they effortlessly passed from solo to solo.  She would occasionally approach Taylor’s piano with an admiration matched only by Lucy van Pelt‘s love for Schroder.

Rosholt has been center stage since age nine when she played “Joseph” in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dream Coat, a character she cites as her first transgender role.  She did a stint at the Children’s Theater and that set her on a life-long artistic journey.  She received her BFA at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, studying photography and performance art.  Then, about seven years ago, a friend asked her to play a jazz singer in a local act called “Dixie Cups and the Little Darlins.”  After touring locally with the group, Rosholt decided she didn’t want to just play a jazz singer. 

Over the years, Rosholt has refined her craft.  While singing “Cheek to Cheek,” her voice had a delicateness when she hit the high notes that reminded me of Tierney Sutton and made me wish that Rosholt and her band would have followed up with a version of “Softly, As In A Morning Sunrise.”  With “Summer (Estaté)” Rosholt gave us breathy and elongated notes with confident sustain.  Karr’s flute added a hummingbird quality as Taylor rippled up and down the keys.  While performing Harold Arlen’s “Down With Love,” Peterson’s bass and Epstein’s drums filled-out the sound without overpowering.  At one point, Rosholt noted that Cole Porter’s “My Heart Belongs to Daddy” might be the creepiest song ever, but, proceeded to sing it with conviction.  Its oddness was emphasized by Karr’s dissonant sax playing and Peterson stepping up and down the fretboard.

Rosholt and the band played several sets.  After each, she came back with even more to offer.  She seemed to gain energy by socializing with her fans.  Greeting them all added to the warmth of the Dakota.  At the end of the evening, the band held it down while Rosholt crescendoed into “Just a Gigolo.”

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