Perla Batalla: Songs and Sundries Variety Hour, Grant R. Brimhall Library, Thousand Oaks, Saturday August 23
Grammy-nominated singer Perla Batalla possesses not only a signature voice known to summon soul-stirring depths, but the professional and personal clout to pull-in a slate of heavy-hitters when she decides to throw a party. And party is exactly what patrons of Thousand Oaks’ “Live at the Library” got for the closing show of the season at Grant R. Brimhall Library on Saturday night, dubbed “Perla Batalla: Songs and Sundries Variety Hour.” The Ojai resident and former back-up singer to Leonard Cohen hosted, with grace and humor, two generous sets of music, sharing the stage with a dozen or so musicians from her personal and professional family circles. The effect was pure enchantment. “I grew up watching Carol Burnett and Engelbert Humperdinck,” Batalla told a capacity audience, relating the genesis of the idea. But those of us who have seen the film, Leonard Cohen: I’m Your Man, can think of a more recent example of a variety concert that Batalla played a role in.
The evening rotated through subsets of the singers and instrumentalists, ranging from light-hearted songs by Batalla’s brother, Ovation Award-winning actor and writer Rick Batalla, to a cerebral work for solo piano written and performed by television and film composer/producer/keyboardist Dave Palmer. Rhythm dharma for the evening was solidly braced by Batalla bedrocks Gilberto Gonzales on bass, young wonder drummer Alejandro Medeles, Claud Mann (Batalla’s husband) on congas, with special guest Grammy-winning composer/producer Jon Gilutin on piano, whose improvisational visions blissfully filled a multitude of song choruses throughout the night. Continue reading