Feb 08, 2012 - Sweet & Hot's Valentine's Day dance at Jazz Hall


 True to their collective name, the vocalists of Sweet & Hot Productions plan to offer songs both sweet and hot for their Valentine's Day dance at the Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame's Jazz Depot. 

    Those whose tastes run to the sour, however, should look elsewhere this time around.

    "We'll emphasize love songs," says Pam Van Dyke Crosby with a chuckle. " We won't be doing `Mean to Me,' or any `What are you doing, you cheat?' songs.
It's Valentine's Day." 

    Crosby joins her Sweet & Hot cohorts Cindy Cain and Rebecca Ungerman, along with producer P. Casey Morgan, for this special edition of the group's twice-monthly Dance at the Depot shows. The band includes Jeff Newsome on piano, Mike Bennett on trumpet, Bill Crosby on bass, and Wade Robertson on drums. 

    In the tradition of these events, says Crosby, "dance tickets, CDs, and different services in town" will be raffled off. A prize will be given to the couple whose dress best reflects the Valentine's theme. 

    Crosby, Ungerman, Cain, and Morgan first made their collective mark at Tulsa's annual SummerStage theater festival, doing three well-received original musicals with nostalgic themes. After the most recent one, 2010's Hi-Fi Hits of the '50s, they decided to see if they could keep things going - albeit in a slightly different fashion -- after the curtain fell on their SummerStage show. 

    "It was Cindy Cain's idea - she comes up with most of our best ideas," says producer Morgan. "The girls just had so much fun with the music in Hi-Fi Hits of the '50s, and people in the audience kept sitting there looking like they wanted to dance. A few did, in fact. We had those songs, and some hot jumpin' numbers from our '30s shows, so a dance just seemed like a natural."

    So did the Jazz Hall of Fame's Jazz Depot.

    "Cindy really wanted us to do a dance, and we said, 'great,'" remembers Crosby. "We knew the place to do it was at the Jazz Depot. So we booked a date, and the response was so good that the Jazz Hall requested we do two dances a month.

    "We're changing the sets a little each time," adds Morgan, "and we add a couple of new songs for every show."

        One of the newer numbers audiences may hear this time, she says, is "Bei Mir Bist Du Schoen," the Andrews Sisters hit from the '30s

    "Cindy does that one as a solo," says Crosby. "We do two sets with at least 15 songs a set, and out of those, five or six will be group vocals - that doesn't count background vocals. Each of us does three or four solos a set.  We've got the songs from our three shows to work with, and we're always bringing in different songs and seeing if they'll work for us." 

    Still, she adds, there are some subtle differences between the SummerStage shows and the dances. "In our shows, we do a lot of medleys, changing tempos and stuff, but in our dances, we always keep it dancey, she explains. "We do swing stuff like `Jump, Jive, and Wail,' foxtrots like 'Cheek to Cheek,' Latins of all different kinds - rhumbas, sambas, tangos. I do `Gravy Waltz' and `Tennessee Waltz.' We always mix a lot of dance tempos."

    "Dancers are our target audience," affirms Morgan. "All ages are welcome, and we see lots of different ages every time. We have a young couple who drive over from Fort Smith, just to dance."

    However, she says, whether you choose to dance or sit it out, you'll find a lot to like at the Sweet & Hot events.

    "These are for people who like to dance, but they're also for people who just want to hear the girls sing. And they're for people who want to hear the girls sing and see the dancers dance. Everybody's welcome."     
    After this special Valentine's Day show and dance, the Sweet & Hot Productions performers return to their regular Dance at the Depot schedule, appearing on the first and third Friday of each month. The time remains the same: Doors open at 7 p.m., with live music beginning at 7:30. 

    The Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame's Jazz Depot is located at 111 E. First St.  Tickets, at $10, can be purchased at the depot or by calling Bettie Downing at 918-281-1008. Refreshments will be available for purchase.

    The Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame is a 501(c)(3) non-profit cultural and educational organization, dedicated the a mission to inspire creativity and improve the quality of life for all Oklahomans through preservation, education, and performance of jazz, America's classical music.