*What better way to celebrate your birthday than to be around those that love you? Maybe that is what Michael Henderson had in mind when he decided to celebrate his 67th birthday performing at the Catalina Jazz Bar and Grill in Hollywood on July 7.
It was his third time performing there in less than a year; however, based on audience response, you would have thought they hadn’t seen him in years, if ever. I think it’s fair to say the audience loved him. Instead of fans giving him presents, which by the way, some did, he brought presents, in the form of surprise guests and good music.
Prolific composer, arranger, producer and pianist Sylvester Rivers, who has been involved with some of the biggest names in the music business, was the MC for the evening, a switch from the previous two times Michael performed at the Catalina.
Rena Scott who collaborated with Michael to create, “Take Me, I’m Yours,” was once again on hand for the festivities and was first up. She did not disappoint; she never does. Her voice was as clear and crisp as always, as she and Michael performed their signature duet, as well as others songs.
In a phone interview with EURweb’sleader, Lee Bailey, Michael made mention of Lamont Dozier’s, “Why Can’t We Be Lovers” being performed and said he was calling Lamont that day to confirm. Imagine my disappointment when he introduced Lamont Dozier Jr. as the one to perform and not the elder Dozier. My disappointment was very short-lived because Lamont Dozier Jr can sing. He is the real deal and every bit as talented as his father. I was anything but disappointed at the apparent bait and switch. I enjoyed his performance so much that I inquired if he was equally as adept at performing another Lamont Dozier Sr. song, “Fish Ain’tBitin.”
In the telephone interview, Michael mentioned he was going to mix things up, meaning not do the same things that were done at his two previous Catalina Jazz Club appearances. Some things were different for sure, but they were things I was actually looking forward to, like seeing Ray Parker Jr. again and watching Michael and Rena move through the audience. I got over it and the barrage of Dramatics hits that were performed helped. Michael has had a hand in more Dramatics hits than I can name and he performed several of them, including “Hey You, Get Off My Mountain” “In the Rain,” “What You See is What You Get,” “Get Up, Get Down”and “Be My Girl.” Michael also performed a medley of Prince’s “1999,” Rick James’ “You and I,” Jr. Walker and the All-Stars, “Shotgun” which was a change and performed very nicely.
Speaking of switching things up, how about Michael had the audience singing. He told us to sing, “Betcha by Golly Wow.” He started us off and we did the rest. I guess he was right when he told Lee, “Everyone is going to sing that night.” Phyllis Hyman’s 69th birthday would have been on July 6. We celebrated her birthday by butchering her song. LOL! Actually, we didn’t sound half bad; just ask Michael or actress Roz Ryan (Amelia from “Amen”), who was also on hand to celebrate her birthday.
Of course Michael sang his hits, including “Wide Receiver,” with modified lyrics, “Sometimes you get your nut; sometimes you don’t.” LOL! The audience got a kick out of that. “At the Concert” and “In the Nighttime” seemed to be audience favorites, but then again, the reaction was good on all of the songs Michael performed. Like I said, the audience loved him. I don’t believe there was anyone who could think they didn’t get their money’s worth. I have to admit that although I enjoyed the show, I wasn’t blown away; however, that has more to do with the fact that I have seen Michael perform three times in less than a year, with no new music, than it has to do with his performance, as evidenced by the audience reaction. He was very entertaining and knows how to put on a show. If you are in one of the cities on his upcoming performing radar (Washinton D.C. or Cleveland), go check Michael out and report back to me.
Get Michael Henderson’s itenerary and connect with him via his Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/MICHAELHENDERSONINFO/
Marilyn Smith is a Los Angeles based writer/reviewer. Contact her via [email protected].