Annie Ross

James Gavin
Time Out NY
August 2005

Annie Ross has hardly ever made a safe move-and at 75, this still glamorous, seemingly indestructible jazz singer and actress has got some stories to tell.  This is the redheaded fashion plate whose lurching high notes, burning rhythm and cool sex appeal led a historic vocal trio, Lambert, Hendricks and Ross, from 1957 to 1962.  Before then, Ross played Judy Garland's kid sister in an MGM musical, Presenting Lily Mars; wrote "Twisted," a tongue-twisting comic bebop number about insanity that both Bette Midler and Joni Mitchell would later record; and birthed the child of a bop giant, drummer Kenny Clarke.  Ross has kept up her high-wire, hand-to-mouth jazz life ever since-topped, perhaps, by her role in Robert Altman's Short Cuts, in which she played a battle-scarred, self-destructive jazz singer reminiscent of the younger Annie Ross.

Unlike that character, Ross has always landed on her feet, and now she's about to land at Danny's Skylight Room.  For six Wednesdays, you can experience her as she is today:  as hard-swinging, poised and funny as ever, with her actress's ability to turn familiar songs into worldly playlets.  Ross doesn't make such appearances often; these days she's busy writing a hair-raising memoir, while making a new album (her 25th, give or take).  See her at Danny's and you'll understand what jazz used to be-an expression of the danger, the fun and the life between the notes.