What to Do Tonight: Nora McCarthy

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Jazz hands
  • Jazz hands

The intrepid and experimental vocalist Nora McCarthy will make a rare hometown appearance tonight at 7 at Nighttown, performing material from her three independently released albums. A striking woman of unusually elastic voice, McCarthy infuses her music with poetry and theatricality that’s both stark and sensual. McCarthy left Cleveland for New York 17 years ago after working with such talents as the late pianists Neal Creque, Willie Smith and Ace Carter. A devotee of classic jazz, global rhythms and the fine arts (one album was inspired by the paintings of Russian modernist Wassily Kandinsky), McCarthy is a musical colorist eager to push the envelope. On her newest CD, Circle Completing, she refreshes “Come Fly With Me” and “The Shadow of Your Smile,” converts Willie Dixon’s bluesy “Little Red Rooster” into a slow seduction, rolls out her own love songs and, in the philosophical “Faith in Time,” delivers an appropriately languid homage to a key influence, androgynous Cleveland jazz singer Jimmy Scott. Joining her at Nighttown will be pianist Dan Maier, acoustic bassist Martin Block and drummer Roy King. “I think about returning to Cleveland and miss the days when there was a more active jazz scene than I see now,” says McCarthy. “However, I always loved Cleveland, it is my hometown, and I have many great musical memories there and dear friends and family.” Tickets: $10. —Carlo Wolff

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