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JAZZ REVIEWS : Hopkins Christens Hollywood Pavilions

December 05, 1987|DON HECKMAN

Hollywood Live Entertainment Pavilions--a multi-level, three-theater testimony to the continuing revitalization of Hollywood Boulevard--opened its doors to the public Thursday night with the stirringly energetic rhythms of blues singer Linda Hopkins.

The choice of Hopkins to musically christen the dark wood and Spanish styled environs of the refurbished former Masonic temple national landmark building was appropriate both creatively and stylistically.

Working in the complex's elegant Silver Screen Club Room, Hopkins reminded anyone who may have been living in Antarctica for the last few decades that she is a world-class performer--and one of the very few singers who can effectively range from the classic blues of Bessie Smith to contemporary ballads and rhythm songs.

Opening with a rambunctious reading of Leonard Feather's "Evil Gal Blues," she quickly shifted into a darkly passionate rendering of "As Long As He Needs Me"--one that almost exploded with a mid-passage, slipping and sliding, melismatic vocal break.

Hopkins hit her full stride with a rocking version of "Nobody Knows You When You're Down and Out" (from her Bessie Smith show), and peaked with a soulful "Stormy Monday Blues" and a crowd-pleasing "Shake a Hand."

As she so often does, Hopkins generously allocated part of her set to protege singers Adam Jackson and Ruby Wilson. While both performers had promising qualities, the net result of their appearance was to diminish Hopkins' stage time--not a wise idea under any circumstances, and especially inappropriate on such a special evening.

Jay Joseph, a workmanlike singer who needs to look a bit harder for qualities that might make him more unique, and Maureen Murphy, a delightfully witty Australian comedienne opened the two hour cabaret set.

The Hopkins show continues at the Hollywood Live Entertainment Pavilions through tonight, with shows at 9 and 11:15 p.m. A single charge of $10 per person provides admission.

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