ALBION — Janice Mitchell and Jim Beishline transfixed the audience during their Aug. 17 concert at Hoag Library, 134 South Main St., a performance that concluded a new summertime concert series at the library.
After playing nearly an hour opening set, Janice thanked the audience for its attentive appreciation and was forgiving if some needed to leave before the second set.
Janice, the singer, and Jim, the pianist, took this a cue. Where they seemed to do jazz and blues fairly conservatively, but beautifully, in the first half, they swung into inspired and unerring improvisations in the last hour.
Janice’s tonality is so perfect that you begin to take it for granted. But, when you realize that only Jose Carreras of “The Three Tenors” sang perfect pitch throughout his performances, you realize how exceptional a feat that is, especially in view of Janice’s complex choices.
Among Janice’s numerous credits, in the 1980s she toured for five years as a singing Raylette with the great Ray Charles. Jim is a member of the Buffalo Music Hall of Fame, with numerous credits as well.
Janice’s sweet, and slightly seductive personality adds just the right sauciness to her blues. Her take on “Georgia On My Mind” was reminiscent of her former boss, yet original and equally moving.
Jim’s arrangement and rhythm on “Summertime” and his intro to “Over the Rainbow” were only two outstanding examples of his startling and stirring reach for the “beyond.” Jim’s rock-solid left hand always was there, despite the constant exploring by his right.
And beyond technical perfections and personality, were their hearts, the sharing of warmth and heat of their own excitement and innermost experiences and feelings.
Critics often complained about Miles Davis’ lack of appreciation of his audience. But I felt that we owed him for his daring to share his soul with us. Great musicians like Janice and Jim often do this.
They succeeded last Friday night and they were charming as well.
Bob Golden produced the Apple Grove Inn Jazz Festival in Orleans County for 10 years and hosted a regular show on WGMC-FM, Rochester. He has written music reviews for several publications and reviewed more than 40 books at the Albion library.