A Swinging Birdland Christmas
December 21 @ 5:30 pm - 7:00 pm
Klea Blackhurst, Jim Caruso & Billy Stritch in
“A Swinging Birdland Christmas”
Returning to Birdland for the THIRTEENTH Consecutive Year
Since 2010, “A Swinging Birdland Christmas” has been a wildly successful extravaganza celebrating the holidays on the stage of the historic music room.
This year, “A Swinging Birdland Christmas,” starring Birdland regulars Klea Blackhurst, Jim Caruso and Billy Stritch will perform a limited engagement of six performances, Tuesday through Sunday, December 20 – 25. All shows are at 5:30pm.
The trio is also releasing a Deluxe Edition of their popular cd, “Christmas at Birdland,” produced by Wayne Haun on the Club44 Records label.
In the tradition of beloved seasonal specials, Blackhurst, Caruso and Stritch will perform swinging arrangements of “Christmas Waltz,” Kay Thompson’s “Holiday Season,” “Sleigh Ride,” “I’ve Got My Love To Keep Me Warm,” “Snow,” and “It Happened In Sun Valley,” among other favorites. The show will also include a musical tribute to Birdland regular Freddy Cole, who was also a holiday tradition! The singers will be joined by Steve Doyle on bass and Daniel Glass on drums.
KLEA BLACKHURST is an actress, singer and comedienne known for her award-winning tribute to Ethel Merman, Everything The Traffic Will Allow. Most recently she appeared Off-Broadway with Hayley Mills in the comedy, Party Face, at City Center Stage 2. She starred in Hazel during its world premiere production at Drury Lane in Chicago, as Dolly Levi in the highly acclaimed Fiftieth Anniversary production of Hello, Dolly! at The Goodspeed Opera House and as Miss Lemon in The Nutty Professor, which premiered in Nashville, directed by legendary comedian, Jerry Lewis and featuring a score by Marvin Hamlisch and Rupert Holmes. Klea also played Rose in Drury Lane Chicago’s production of Gypsy, garnishing rave reviews in 2012. She’s performed with symphony orchestras and in theatrical productions across the country and abroad including the London Palladium presentation of Jerry Herman’s Broadway with Angela Lansbury, the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra tribute to Marvin Hamlisch,, the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, 15 Mabel Mercer Foundation Cabaret Conventions, New York’s Town Hall, Jazz at Lincoln Center, Carnegie Hall, New York’s 92nd Street Y Lyrics & Lyricists, The Chicago Humanities Festival and as Ado Annie in the BBC Proms concert of Oklahoma! in London’s Royal Albert Hall. In addition to regular appearances at New York’s famed Birdland, Klea’s nightclub engagements include tributes to the Broadway career of composer Vernon Duke at the Café Carlyle with a subsequent sold-out engagement at Joe’s Pub at The Public Theater and “Dreaming of a Song: The Music of Hoagy Carmichael,” a collaboration with Billy Stritch. On television she has appeared in Ryan Murphy’s Pose and The Knick, on Showtime. She spent two seasons as former prosecutor, Shelby Cross, on the IFC Channel comedy series, Onion News Network. She’s done the requisite Law and Order: SVU, spent a week on Sesame Street and was a musical guest on The Rosie O’Donnell Show.
JIM CARUSO made his Broadway debut alongside Liza Minnelli in the Tony Award-winning smash hit Liza’s At The Palace!, singing, dancing and celebrating the music and arrangements of the late, great Kay Thompson and the Williams Brothers. Caruso has won six MAC and nine BroadwayWorld Awards for his sold-out New York shows at Birdland, the Algonquin Hotel; and has also performed in runs at the Gardenia and Cinegrill in Los Angeles, The Vic Theater in Chicago, Libby’s in Atlanta, the Colony Palm Beach Hotel and the Connaught Room in London. He sang with the New York Pops in an all-star tribute to Kander & Ebb at Carnegie Hall, and returned to “The Hall” in a tribute to Bob Hope and Bing Crosby, hosted by Michael Feinstein. He was invited to sing at President Clinton’s First State Dinner at the White House, and celebrated Bing Crosby in concert at Carnegie Hall with Rosemary Clooney. For the past nineteen years, he has hosted a Monday night showbiz bash at Birdland called “Jim Caruso’s Cast Party.” That open mic/variety show has been seen at Jazz at Lincoln Center and Town Hall in NYC, and in theaters and clubs across the country. During the pandemic, he stormed the internet with 72 episodes of “Pajama Cast Party,” showcasing hundreds of performers from Kristin Chenoweth to Isaac Mizrahi and Chita Rivera. He croons regularly with Billy Stritch at Bemelmans at The Carlyle Hotel, and his recordings include “Christmas at Birdland,” “The Swing Set,” (both on Club44 Records) and “Caruso: Live and In Person” (LML Records).
BILLY STRITCH is one of the premier singer-pianists on the New York and national jazz and cabaret scenes. He began his career in Houston, Texas, where he formed the vocal trio Montgomery, Plant and Stritch. The trio performed all over New York and Europe from 1983 until they disbanded in 1990. A chance meeting with Liza Minnelli in March of 1991 resulted in her asking him to create vocal arrangements for the record-breaking extravaganza Liza Stepping Out at Radio City Music Hall. In addition to his 25-year collaboration with as accompanist and opening act for Liza, Billy recently toured with the legendary Tony Bennett as Tony’s pianist and musical director. A solo entertainer in his own right, he has performed his own shows (including tributes to Mel Tormé and Cy Coleman) in concert halls and nightclubs across the country. Billy also serves as music director for such leading vocalists as Marilyn Maye, Linda Lavin, Linda Eder, Christine Ebersole and Paulo Szot. He is the co-writer of the number one Grammy-winning song “Does He Love You” recorded by Reba McEntire and Linda Davis. Lightning struck twice for this song as a new version was released in 2021 by Reba and the legendary Dolly Parton. When he’s not on the road, he is the pianist for “Jim Caruso’s Cast Party” night every Monday at New York’s legendary Birdland Jazz Club and he and Jim hold forth on Sunday nights at Bemelmans Bar in Manhattan’s fabled Carlyle Hotel. During Covid-19, he created his own weekly Facebook live-stream show “Billy’s Place”, celebrating the Great American Songbook with songs and stories from his varied career. He has recorded five solo CDs and his latest CD release “Billy’s Place” (Club44 Records) is a collection of his favorite songs from these online concerts. Follow Billy on Instagram @billystritch.
“A Swinging Birdland Christmas”
Birdland, 315 West 44 Street, NYC
212-581-3080 or BirdlandJazz.com
Tuesday through Sunday, December 20 – 25
All shows at 5:30pm