Concert Review from The Coffee Gallery Backstage
For LA Jazz Scene Magazine

Janet Klein & Her Parlor Boys
Songs To Cheer In Tumultuous Times


I've just experienced an absolutely delightful time-warp from the period of 1900 through 1920 with the remarkable Janet Klein and her Parlor Boys! She was enchanting and bubbly, and full of the 1920's good spirit and energy, and oh! those songs and presentation with right-on authenticity, that made you want to double-check the year on the L.A. Times in the rack outside the front door. Her seemingly endless catalog of period songs, and the very human people that lived them, were like rhythmic stories of the life and times.  She performed so well, Miss Klein may convince you a time-machine whisked her a hundred years into the 2014 future for your entertainment, then after her inevitable encore, returned her to where she lives, probably close to 42nd Street in year 1914 New York.

    Such ability deserves the support of a like-minded band, which comes in a quartet called The Parlor Boys.  The Boys include: Benny Brydern, an "A" list quality violinist, equally capable and comfortable with Bach or Irving Berlin; Tom Marion, playing a replica of the Selmer-Maccaferri guitar played by Django Reinhardt, in his sensational Hot Club of Paris group, although Marion's sound and style were more like the "Singing Troubador," Nick Lucas, an early days heart throb for your grandmother (or her mother!); Randy Woltz, played vibraphone, accordion, and spoons (yes!); and Marquis Howell, effectively using a most unique oscillating right hand wrist-snap to slap the strings of his upright bass to accentuate rhythm.

    There were also a few surprises included, such as turning off all of the room lights for Klein's "What A Night For Spooning," accompanying her vocal with a "banjolele" lighted from behind to illuminate the front of the instrument (ukelele neck on a small banjo head), played in the dark; Tom Marion bringing out yet another unusual instrument, a very old six string banjo with a huge round head and very short neck for "Jenny's Lowdown Dance;" and a song from old Yiddish Theater, "Becky, Becky, I Ain't Coming Home No More," sung by Miss Klein, who described it as a Hawaiian-Klezmer song, with similar theme as the World War I "How You Gonna Get 'em Back On The Farm, After They've Seen Paree (Paris)?"

    Other songs included, "Smooth Talker," "I Found A New Baby," "Living In Sin," "Bye Bye Blues," "A Little Bit Independent," "Sunday," "Late But Not Late," a duet on "True Blue Lou," by Klein and Howell, Tom Marion letting loose on "Say It Again" to not only play guitar in a Nick Lucas style but also sing it like him, well, that's something to hear! This is the music that people enjoyed and went out to see in speakeasies, dance halls, and vaudeville theaters, performed as it would have been heard. More than nostalgic or historical, this is great fun and entertainment, and usually a wonderful surprise to those hearing Janet Klein for the first time. I've promised myself that I will see Miss Klein again several times this next year -- this is classy entertainment just too good not to be in my life!  Thanks to the Coffee Gallery Backstage in Altadena for presenting Janet Klein and Her Parlor Boys

Harvey Barkan, LA Jazz Scene


LA Times / Music - Pop & Hiss - December 2012
Janet Klein Finds Something Old Is New Again
By Randy Lewis
Download PDF here


Janet Klein and Her Parlor Boys,

By: Chuck Mindenhall

Throwback flapper Janet Klein is the very definition of an “old soul.” She grew up in 1970s San Bernardino, yet fell in love with the bits of the IE she never knew—the historical images she’d seen of early turn-of-the-century postcards with orange groves and the old Carnegie Library with the onion dome. The way things were got into her blood, and today she’s the most refreshing anachronism to ever materialize from the ether of the Prohibition. Klein is a channel to a definitive time in American music when Eton crops were the rage and batting-eyes meant you had a live one on your hands. 

Thing is, LA-based Janet Klein and Her Parlor Boys are more than some nostalgic shtick. She doesn’t merely perform songs from “lost America”—obscure numbers circa 1900s-1930s such as barrelhouse jazz, foxtrots, chansonettes, ragtime ditties and vaudeville from the Great Depression—she actually lives them, and transports her audiences along the way. Klein considers herself an “archeologist” for digging up buried treasures by the likes of Wilton Crawley and A.P. Randolf and Robert Cloud, the songs of the Victrola that her and the Parlor Boys—featuring an all-star line-up playing banjos, uprights, trombones, trumpets, violins, piano, etc—add all that authentic dang to feel the wild spirit of that bygone era. The “naughty” music of the day is Klein’s strong suit, and the ukulele chanteuse belts in an Olive Oyl-meets-Billie Holiday voice while coyly bobbling in step to the strump. 

On Saturday night she returns to the IE, here’s hoping for the Lorenz Hart-penned “Hollywood Party,” a standout in the hundreds of songs in Klein’s repertoire. Whatever she chooses to play from her five albums of material, it’ll be good music because, as Klein says, it comes “from the only decades that were ever worth a hill o’ beans.” (Chuck Mindenhall)


LA Jazz Scene December, 2005
Harvey Barkan

“Janet Klein’s Scandals. Living In Sin.
(Coeur De Jeanette Productions)

Now that the title of this album has attracted your attention, please read on about a most delightful and unusual CD. Janet Klein is a misplaced-in-time phenomenon! Perhaps the stork delivering her got lost and arrived 75 or 80 years later than the scheduled 1900! This might be why she fits the early music so well, especially the obscure, naughty and lovely songs of the 1910s, ‘20s and ‘30s. She has the subtleties of the early forms down pat, tied to those early days by heritage of her grandfather, Marty Klein, a vaudeville performer, and studying records, photos, and films of early jazz and pre-jazz vocalists. She emulates the body language and expressions amazingly well, unfortunately missed on a CD with only audio. At times, she comes in below an ending note and slides it up to pitch at the end of a phrase, and uses a slight east-coast pronunciation on “words” and “birds” and “world” as did many women vocalists of the time. Her work is authentic, done with a twinkle and a wink.

The Parlor Boys are excellent musicians playing musical arrangements that reflect the styles and character of these 22 selections, dating from 1913 to 1934. Brad Kay on piano, cornet, and vocals, is deeply involved in this period of music history and traditions; and old-timey walking bass runs for chord transitions on the guitar, mandolin and banjo, are nicely done by Tom Marion, also a nephew of a vaudevillian, Nino Demagio. Other band members are Billy Steele, guitar; Benny Brydern, violin; Corey Gemme, cornet; Ian Whitcomb, ukulele, accordion and vocals; Dave Jones, bass; Russ Blake, Hawaiian steel guitar; and guest instrumentalists, Randy Woltz, xylophone, vibraphone, percussion; Dan Levinson, C melody sax, clarinet; Robert Armstrong, Hawaiian steel guitar, accordion; and Bob Mitchell on The Mighty Wurlitzer Organ. A 1926 tune,”How Could Red Riding Hood,” (“Have been so very good and still keep the wolf from the door?”) was sung as a duo by Klein and Whitcomb, with a humorous implied challenge to Red Riding Hood’s virtue. “The Sheik of Avenue B” (1922), was recorded at the Old Town Music Hall in El Segundo so Klein could be accompanied by 91 year old Bob Mitchell on the Mighty Wurlitzer Organ, for amost unlikely combination of a magnificent formal instrument accompanying a humorous song from Yiddish Theater, that worked wonderfully.

Other tunes were “Hollywood Party”(1934), “Good Little Bad Little You” (1928), “Living In Sin” (1933), “My Bluebird’s Singing the Blues” (1934), “Don’t Take That Blackbottom Away” (1926), “Ce Disque Vous Dira” (1932), “Some Little Bug Is Going to Find You”(The Germ Song 1915), “Baby O’ Mine” (1926), “Jacksonville Blues” (1927), “Nightwind” (1934), “Sing Me A Baby Song” (1927).
It’s a charming CD!


Customers and artists are always asking us if we have favorite artists to recommend, people who have stood out amongst the some 130,000 artists selling here. Janet Klein is one of those few artists we can never forget. Every album has charmed us beyond belief and "Oh!" is no different. Capturing perfectly the light and delightful music of the 1910s, 20s and 30s, including hot jazz and vaudeville, Janet Klein and her Parlor Boys keep us smiling and shuffling along in our work day. If you haven't heard of her yet, now is the time to see what you have been missing.






GREAT ACOUSTICS - Graziano Ukulele
By Michael Simmons
Acoustic Guitar Magazine

Most fretted instruments made in the United States tend to take their cosmetic cues from either Gibson or Martin. But when chanteuse Janet Klein designed the uke pictured here, she was unaware of the conventions. "When I was traveling in Europe, I saw these beautifully decorated old lutes and mandolins in the museums," she recalls. "They really inspired me. When I showed the design to my friends they all said,'You can't have inlays in the top.' But when I asked Tony Graziano if he could make it he said, "I can do it!'

Graziano says that Klein knew from the beginning that she wanted a black uke with Japanese designs. "She was visiting my shop with some mutual friends and saw a black lacquered uke I had just finished for a customer. When she got home, she started working on designs. We just kept refining them until we came up with something that we both thought worked." Because of the black finish, Graziano decided to make the top, back, and sides out of mahogany instead of the fancy koa he usually uses. And to match the color, he used ebony for the fingerboard, bridge, and peghead overlay. The inlays are a combination of pearl and abalone.

Although the Japanese floral motif is unusual on a modern ukulele, American instruments with internationally inspired decoration were quite common in the 1920s and 30s. Gibson made the Florentine banjo that, despite its name, had scenes of Venice engraved on the inlays. And Leedy made a banjo called the Egyptian and another called the Hollander. Janet Klein is so pleased with her uke that she is thinking about ordering a few more. "I want a red one and a white one," she says. "If Tony ever wants to start marketing my designs, we could call it the Klein Line."


Acoustic Guitar Magazine
By Michael Simmons

Janet Klein has been listening to music from the 1920s, "20s and early "30s since she was a girl, but it wasn't until she started playing ukulele in 1995 that she was able to convince her friends to listen to some of her favorite songs. " I could never get anyone to sit down and listen to those old records with me," she says. "But after I started playing the ukulele, friends would call me up and ask, "Oh, could you play me that "Love Is A Boomerang" song for me? I have someone here who would love to hear it." When she realized that people would rather listen to her than to her records, Klein launched a mission to reintroduce the world to the delights of early-20th-century popular song.

Klein says she always wanted to be a singer, but because she had no training she didn't think anyone would listen to her . So she started writing poetry that made her feel the same way the old songs did. "People probably thought my poems were odd because I was getting my influence from Cole Porter, not Sylvia Plath," she says. "But to me, songwriters like that are wonderful poets." She read her poetry at various venues in Los Angeles throughout the "80s and early "90s until she decided to start sneaking in some music into her readings. "Being a poet, I like to think small," she explains, " so I started out playing the triangle. It actually suited my verse quite well. After doing that for a while, I thought of the ukulele because I thought it would be easy to learn." She put together a wish list of classic songs she wanted to learn and had friends who played help her with the arrangements.

As her repertoire grew, she decided to record a CD. She asked her friend John Reynolds, grandson of the 1930s movie star Zazu Pitts and a fine guitarist in the Eddie Lang tradition, to accompany her. The CD was called "Come Into My Parlor", and it featured a charming mix of saucy, sweet and sentimental songs such as "Her Beaus Are Only Rainbows", "Give Me Liberty or Give Me Love", and "If I Can't Sell It I'll Keep Sitting On It."

For "Paradise Wobble", her second CD, Klein wanted a band of her own. She began to jam with various musicians in the Los Angeles area, and soon she was playing with a regular group of players she dubbed the Parlor Boys. She says that finding musicians to join the band is like a scene from an old movie. "I feel like Dorothy going down the yellow brick road. I just keep meeting these wonderful characters along the way." The membership of the Parlor Boys is somewhat fluid, but the band has included some of the finest old-time jazz players in California, such as pianist Brad Kay, fiddler Paul Shelasky, and bassist Buster Fitzpatrick.

Klein has also attracted a number of fine guitarists, including Reynolds; Robert Armstrong, a founding member of the Cheap Suit Serenaders and an excellent Hawaiian guitarist; Billy Steele, who used to play with Alice Cooper before he heard a Django Reinhardt record and dropped out of the rock scene to devote himself to Gypsy jazz; and Tome Marion, who is probably the best kept secret among contemporary early jazz players. Klein sites Marion as the guiding force behind her music. "He was so helpful in the beginning," she says. "I could ask him any question about music, and he always had an answer. He can play any song in any style and not just on guitar, but on tenor banjo and mandolin as well." Armstrong agrees. "Tom can play like Eddie Lang or Riley Pucket and sound perfect doing both. I always look forward to playing with him."

"Paradise Wobble" (Coeur de Jeanette Productions, includes a wide assortment of songs from the early part of the 20th century, Hawaiian tunes like "Honolulu Stomp", jazz numbers like the title track, novelty numbers like "Tain't No Sin to Take Off Your Skin and Dance Around In Your Bones" (which features vocal by Ian Whitcomb), and naughty songs like Cole Porter's "The Physician". Klein is the rare artist who found her niche the first time out. "I hated pop music when I was growing up," she says. "I kept looking for something else that would appeal to me. I just followed my discontent, and it led me to these wonderful songs."

What They Play
Jane Klein plays a custom Tony Graziano ukulele. On Paradise Wobble, Robert Armstrong played a c.1930 National ukulele that features an engraving of his own design, and a Mussel and Westphal musical saw he bought in 1969. Billy Steele played a Dell'Arte Dark Eyes, which is a reproduction of the Selmer Modele Jazz that Django Reinhardt played. Tom Marion played a Sags Selmer copy John Reynolds sold him inorder to buy an engagement ring, a rare 1930s Epiphone FT-27 Masterbilt flattop, a 1929 Gibson L4 roundhole archtop, and a tenor banjo he has since sold.



Did you ever hear a bird chirping outside your window on a glorious morning, reminding you to enjoy the day? Did you ever wake up with a smile on your face? Listening to Janet Klein's sweet birdlike voice makes you feel like you woke up in your silk pajamas right next to your favorite sweetheart. Looking like she just walked out of a silent movie, her looks suit the funny old timey songs she sings. (She's our SCRAM covergirl for Crissakes!) On Come Into My Parlor, it's Janet and her ukulele occasionally accompanied by acoustic guitar, accordion, mandolin,harmonica and triangle. On Paradise Wobble she has an entire acoustical band! And these guys are first class musicians! If you didn't know that there was love, sex, fun and wit in the 1910's, 20s and 30s, then you will know it now. Carefully produced using vintage and modern equipment, the tones are lovely. Listen and feel the languishing silks, the hand-embroidered lace, the soft velvets and sturdy cotton! The glamour, humour and naughty innuendoes of the past are waiting for you in both of these finely produced (and beautiful to look at) CDs.


Janet Klein's soothing' syrup stomp by Tony Mostrom
"I wish somebody would open a speakeasy where I could play every night," Janet Klein says over the clatter at Musso Frank, a fitting place to meet with a fellow true-blue nostalgiac and talk about her Jazz-Age-flavored vintage-song combo, Janet Klein and Her Parlor Boys.

Janet and her Boys are a darn-near unique ensemble, expert purveyors of what she likes to call "obscure, naughty and lovely songs", the all-but-forgotten American popular tunes of the 1910s, '20s and '30s. Fittingly, the group recently performed at the Silent Movie Theatre on Fairfax as a surprise opener for the 1927 Harold Lloyd comedy "the Kid Brother", turning the evening into a deep immersion in the '20s. the Parlor Boys wore suits, a few hats and their instruments: acoustic big-band and steel guitars mandolins a big tenor banjo, plus fiddle, bass and trap set.

The Boys started by knockin' out a 1936 Django Reinhardt number, "I Found A New Baby" (Billy Steele's frantic Django strumming was spot-on), then backed the lovely Miss Klein, bobbed and coifed with geraniums in a slim, vintage puffed-shoulder dress, cradling a ukulele. In her pure, remarkably controlled and slightly kittenish voice, she belted out Depression-era double-entendre numbers like "Any Kinda-Man (Would Be Better Than You)" ("If he's got one leg, that would be all right/just so he brings that one leg home to mama, every night") "Clip Joint" ("I love these speakeasy tunes, Klein says) and other reincarnations heard on their new CD Paradise Wobble (Coeur de Jeanette).

The crowd was wowed-- and how! They thunderously applauded Klein, and she bowed slowly sideways, clasped hands to cheek, elaborate arabesques from both arms hailing her partners to each side.

While Janet's cute as a button in a way that's perfect for her, uh, time, there is no Betty Boop--like eye rolling in her act at all. In fact, it turns out she has a positive dislike for wackiness.

Back at Musso's: "Yeah, the thing is, I can't take that much Kitsch. I'm not into old stuff because it's 'funny'. I like it because I think it's great, and I have respect for it." She smiles. "On so many levels, boy, I feel like all my molecules have finally fallen into the right place."

Predictably, I ask: When did you first start digging into the old stuff? "Mostly in college days. I was an art student. I came to LA from San Bernardino in'81, and I was going to the music library at UCLA alot. I discovered these German records, and I'm sitting there with the headphones on, and it was this beautiful song all about 'the beautiful girl that drowned/with algae between her toes/ and God forgot her.'Wow!
'What is this music?'then I got all the translations to "Mack the Knife," and that started me thinking...

Were you singing then?
"Oh, I sang all the time to myself, but no one ever encouraged me in any way...
she laughs. Pish posh,, I say, retroactively.
"So I went ahead and worked on my poetry. I did lots of readings, and I did pretty well. People liked my poetry; they thought I was odd probably, but it was sincere, it was sweet; it was funnyish and wierd,

I love the birds!
With my loving heart!
I lllllove when they sing!
I love---the singing----birds!
When they kiss, I leave.
I've never kissed a bird
in my life.

"And in retrospect, there's a million bluebird songs! I didn't even know at that point how many. And the idea of singing a song about' Gosh! Bluebirds makes me feel nice!'who sings about that anymore?"

Taking up the uke in '95, she eventually banded with a network of vintage-music players that includes current Parlor Boys Tom Marion (guitar, mandolin, banjo), Robert Armstrong (steel guitar, saw) and composer/multiinstrumentalist Brad Kay, whose nostalgia career dates back to what he calles the "Shakey's Pizza movement" of the '60s. Both Tom and Robert are ex-members of R. Crumb's Cheap Suit Serenaders.

" All the guys in the band are collectors," says Klein, "and they're all encyclopedic about this stuff, Brad especially." Speaking of collectors' items, Paradise Wobble has 12 Parlor Boys, 23 songs, and so far no real distributor, though you can get it from CDBABY.COM,,or at McCabe's...
"So be like those Banjo Babies in the South Sea tropic zones/'Cuz it ain't no sin to take off your skin/ and dance around in your bones!"


by Clive Bell
Janet Klein, the "enchanting ukulele chanteuse", is a highly popular live act in her home town of Los Angeles. Her Parlor Boys include two members of the Robert Crumb's Cheap Suit Serenaders, and together they perform a wide range of "Obscure, Naughty and Lovely songs" from the 1920s and 30s. "We play this stuff as if it were illegal", says Klein. Far from being an ironic revisionist, she freshens up the songs as if written yesterday, and offers them up glowing with an erotic brio held elegantly in check.
Klein inhabits this strange world totally and with obvious delight, a world in which an angry woman sings, "Real Estate Papa, you ain't gonna subdivide me", and Cole Porter's tantalising physician refuses to commit--" He said my epidermis was darling, but he never said he loved me". "I'm No Angel", one of the better known numbers, magically combines Klein's sexy phrasing and a hilarious band arrangement. The whole album oozes wit, sex and fine musicianship in a winning combination.

Producer Robert Loveless--of California ethnocore groups Savage Republic and 17 Pygmies-- has gone to some trouble to recreate Old School recording techniques. A four song sequence with an expanded group was recorded in the Ross Deluxe Room, Hollywood, where some of Klein's favorite records were made in 1927. Robert Armstrong's Hawaiian steel guitar is magnificent throughout, but there are many moments where an authentic 20's sound surprises the ear. George Edward's bizarre drum kit, Paul Shelasky's slippery, muted violin,Klein's own parlor piano, saw and virtuoso whistling and Randy Woltz's skeletal xylophone on "Taint No Sin To Take Off Your Skin and Dance Around in Your Bones"(this last is also covered by Tom Waits and William Burroughs in The Black Rider). Enough charm to wobble the birds out of the trees.


Janet Klein "Come Into My Parlor" reviewed by Elizabeth Setler
Whether you know it or not, singer/ukulele player Janet Klein has done you, the music lover, two very big favors. First, she's unearthed a selection of indescribably wonderful and unjustly forgotten songs from the first part of this century, songs which, for the most part, are not available on any format more modern than the 78 rpm record. Second, both live and on record, she's performed those songs for us in an utterly breathtaking fashion. On this beautifully packaged self-released cd, she treats the listener to 24 such gems; the cover describes them as "Emotive Ballads", "Hot Chansonettes", "Jingling Foxtrots", and "Lyrical Notions". Her knowing, kittenish vocal delivery, the equivalent of a wink and a smile, is perfectly matched with the material (which, chock full of clever wordplay and double entendre, almost makes one long for the days of strict censorship) and the delicate instrumentation lends an authentically old-fashioned sweetness to songs that, in the hands of a less finely attuned interpreter, might well end up as overblown camp. Impossible to listen to without smiling. Oh and be sure to thank her.


WebCritic Richard Lewis
What could possibly be nicer than naughty obscure and lovely songs from the 1910s, 20s, and 30s? The answer is nothing. No, I am not going to argue with you. There is nothing nicer than naughty songs. I am not sure if the band would appreciate the comparison, but their sound really reminds me of the Squirrel Nut Zippers, less blazingly fast, more rustic, more laid-back tunes. And Janet Klein plays a ukulele. And their songs are naughtier too.


ALIBI Alternative Music Magazine
COME INTO MY PARLOR reviewed by Stewart Mason
What makes a perfect record? It has less to do with any kind of objective standard--there's no
such thing-- than whether a record accomplishes what it sets out to do. If a record has a specific set of aesthetic criteria and fulfills them completely, then it's a perfect record. Janet Klein's
"Come Into My Parlor" is a perfect record.

Klein, accompanied by her own ukulele and occasional unobstrusive bits of guitar or accordion, essays 26 songs from the teens through the thirties. The program includes standards ("You're the Cream in My Coffee", an exquisite version of Rodgers & Hart's "Mountain Greenery") near-forgotten pop songs (the absolutely adorable, almost Betty Boop-like "Spooning" is possibly the album's highest point) and a small handful of racy novelties. These songs now mostly sound as innocent and sweet as once-shocking French postcards from the era look, despite double-entendre titles like "If I Can't Sell It, I'll Keep Sitting On It" and "Banana In Your Fruit Basket". "Need Some Sugar In My Bowl" on the otherhand, still sounds downright rude. "I need some sugar in my bowl/ I need a hotdog on my roll" purrs Klein. Gee, does Jerry Falwell know that our great-grandparents were listening to such depravity?

The most impressive thing about "Come Into My Parlor" is that unlike most recent exercises in nostalgia, like the thankfully dead lounge revival and the can't-be-dead-soon-enough swing revival, this album is completely free of both smarmy hipsterism ("haha, we're so cool pretending to like this stuff") and attempts to modernize the material. Janet Klein obviously genuinely loves this music, and she sings it with both the historical reverence of the archivist and the unfettered joy of a person doing exactly as she pleases. Recent albums by the Squirrel Nut Zippers, John Southworth and Rufus Wainwright have incorporated elements of this pre-rock style of pop music, but "Come Into My Parlor" is an irony-free presentation of its purest form. I cannot reccomend this album more highly.


Dave White
If you think a ukulele is a Don Ho/ Tiny Tim joke, you need to hear Janet Klein play one. She's like the Jimi Hendrix of the uke. Not that she sets hers on fire or anything. That would be unladylike. Instead, she puts it to use resurrecting, in her own words, "obscure, naughty, and lovely" songs from the 1910s to the 1930s, a time when people were having sex but writing songs about it required a secret decoder ring. Her cd "Come Into My Parlor", the perfect accompaniment to spooning (which did not always mean that thing you do in bed) and pitching woo with your baby, is available for your entertainment right now, with a new release scheduled for sometime early next century. Until then, treat yourself to one of her numerous local appearances with her band The Parlor Boys, whose members include a couple of the R. Crumb's Cheap Suit Serenaders, and her valiant ukulele, which destroys stale kitsch the way Woody Guthrie's guitar destroyed fascism.


Reviews/Hit List
Janet Klein, "Come Into My Parlor"

Janet Klein avoids the squeaky delivery and the boop-boop-a-doops that plague many women performers who sing songs from the 20s and 30s. Her songs may be saucy, but she is no Betty Boop wannabe. Klein accompanies herself on ukulele and her material on "Come Into My Parlor" ranges from wistful ("If you Want the Rainbow You Must Have the Rain") to risque ("Banana In Your Fruit Basket"). She is accompanied by guitarist John Reynolds, a fine player in the Eddie Lang tradition.
-Michael Simmons


Nominated for 1998 Music Awards

A musicologist, poet, and painter, Janet Klein says she's always had a vision of herself in fron tof a candelabra, wearing a gown , clutching a hankie, and emoting. What she does on stage is a fair approximation of that portrait, but it's far more fun--strumming a ukulele, humming and singing traditional songs dating from the 1910-1930 era, and flirting with an audience that almost always returns the favor. Inspired by Vitaphone musicals from the 1920s and her family history--she's sprung from a stock of vaudevillians, artists and magicians--the auburn-haired Klein covers some perfunctory material (Cab Calloway, Kurt weill, even Rudolph Valentino) but shines most when she takes on such naughty numbers as "Banana In Your Fruit Basket" , "If I Can't Sell It I'll Keep Sitting On It", adn "Nasty Man". (Sweet and sexy like a classic showgirl, her stage presence nicely evokes the vamps of the silent era, earning wolf whistles and bouquets from her b
ackstage admirers. No Tiny tim, she.


Music Review November 1998
SIC vice & verse...
As "Come Into My Parlor" spins to a start, you will immediately realize that something utterly unique is taking place. Close your eyes, enter into your imagination. Janet Klein, chanteuse extraordinaire, is tiny, clad and coifed as though plucked from the 1920s, she's a valentine, a daguerrotype from an older, more gracious time, performing her songs with a delicate coquetry. She takes her audience back with her, into a period of elegance and ribaldry that, in today's atmosphere of sleaze and cynicism, is undeniably refreshing.

As I listen, a smile creeps onto my face. It is accompanied by a feeling of delight, as though a great, bubbling laugh, a tipsy mockingbird, has found its way into my chest, and is swaying back and forth on a rib bone, singing its lungs out. Janet's ukulele is an instrument of witchcraft; in her small, graceful hands, she makes it appear ridiculously easy to play (which it is not). While the ukulele is nowadays associated with country-style folk singing, Janet's playing echoes a style popular back in the 1920s and 30s.

The songs are sweetly, exquisitely sung. Janet's voice is clear and true, and the material is naughty, deceptively simple, and marvelously entertaining. Janet beckons us into her parlor with all the seductive charm of a lady who knows what she wants, but is too wise to reach out and grab it. for there is no art in THAT, and Janet Klein, chanteuse extraordinaire, is an artist of consummate skill. She will entice you, entertain you, and convince you that an evening with her would be a most delectable piece of wickedness.
The songs are relics of an age when modesty was cultivated, paradoxically, to seduce. With perfect delivery, Janet performs song after song from the early 1900s, written by such luminaries as Rodgers and Hart and Irving Berlin.

Although a few of these songs were originally composed to be sung by men, most notably some of the blues pieces, Klein delivers them with a panache that makes the paradox work. The titles alone provide an idea of the flavor of this collection: "If I Can't Sell It, I'll Keep Sitting On It", "Need A Little Sugar In My Bowl", "Nasty Man", "Oh you Dog", and "Banana In Your Fruit Basket"...classic studies of seduction and intrigue, downcast eyes and secret smiles, the suggestive language of lips and hands, closed parlor doors. These elegant, slightly lascivious lyrics include: "They call me Naughty Lola, the wisest girl on earth; At home my pianola is worked for all it's worth. My boys all love my music; I can't keep them away, So my little pianola keeps working night and day. I'll tell you a secret; Don't hammer on the keys, for a little pianissimo is always bound to please"

And then there is this: "Ooh you nasty man!..taking your love on the easy plan, Here and there, and where you can..oh you nasty man! You aint fooling me; you're just as bad as bad can be, But you're darn good company....oh you big bad man. You sweet and nasty, I know what's on your mind. you pull a fasty- make me sizzle and then you chisel. Oh you nasty man--I never met anyone who can be as bad or better than you, nasty man!"

The words, on the lips of this lady, are charming enough... and the arrangements are expertly executed. Klein knows her moves, and her songs not only sound wonderful on this CD but her perfomances are every bit as magical as the recording. Small wonder then, that every performance produces a house-full of new adherents. Come Into My Parlor should be required listening for anyone who has lived, loved, and lost. If you have ever misplaced your faith in the power of romance, this collection will restore the gift.


]© 2015 Coeur de Jeanette Productions