Downtown in New York City and right behind Ratner's Deli on Delancey Street is one of two remaining Manhattan speakeasies still operating from the days of prohibition, The Back Room, on Norfolk Street. It is said that gangsters Meyer Lansky [1902-1983] and Charles "Lucky" Luciano [1897-1962] used to hang out there. Its house band for the past three years has been Svetlana & The Delancey Five. If you can't make the scene, you can hear them anyway on their new Night at the Speakeasy (Origin/OA2 Records).
Produced by Herbie Hancock's Grammy Award-winning producer Guy Eckstine (son of singer Billy Eckstine), this Night swings mightily. Svetlana Shmulyian (the Moscow-born chanteuse who's been a mainstay lately of the thriving Brooklyn jazz scene) can write. She also adds her own personal, idiosyncratic take on Beatles ("Because"), Beach Boys ("God Only Knows"), Ellington ("Just A Sittin And A Rockin" and "Do Nothing 'Til You Hear From Me") and Gershwin ("Lady Be Good"). Her Five include woodwinds (Adrian Cunningham), trumpet (Charlie Caranicas), piano (Dalton Ridenhour), guitar (Vinny Raniolo) and co-producer/composer Rob Garcia on drums. Plus, certifiable trombone legend Wycliffe Gordon is also on hand, sliding his big 'bone back and forth and singing two duets with the sultry singer on "You Won't Be Satisfied" and "Under A Blanket Of Blue."
This rollicking, entertaining, danceable feast ends with "Tea For Two" but not before Svetlana reaches back to the motherland for "You Are Like A Song," in Russian no less! It all adds up to a definite Roaring Twenties vibe not seen since Boardwalk Empire went off the air.