Milman, dressed in a black sleeveless top, and a black knee length skirt, with her blonde hair, occasionally falling across her face, never stopped dancing throughout her concert. In particular, she seemed to find her groove both with her feet and her singing, while performing "So Long You Fool," an original composition by her pianist Paul Shrofel.
Milman’s breathy alto vocals brought a sense of nostalgia and romance to the Betty Comden/Adolph Green/Jule Styne tune, "Make Someone Happy." Back in the day, the song was recorded by legendary singers such as Perry Como and Jimmy Durante, as well as being revisited in the film "Sleepless in Seattle." Milman, who is still only twenty-four years old, consistently demonstrates the ability to infuse her songs with passion, romance, and incredible emotional depth.
She introduced the song "(It’s Not Easy) Bein’ Green," by saying that the words reflect the story of her life. As a young child, her parents emigrated from Russia to Israel, and then while she was in her mid teens, they moved again, this time to Canada. Milman found it difficult to be accepted in her new high school. As the first few bars of the song began to play, the audience chuckled, recognizing the song, and immediately associating it with Kermit the Frog, not realizing perhaps that outstanding vocalists such as Shirley Horn had performed the tune long before Kermit. By the end of the song, you could hear a pin drop, and deep sighs emanating from those seated around me, as they realized the deep meaning to the words, and the sensitive manner in which it was delivered by the Toronto based singer.
Milman struck a special chord with her audience as she introduced and sang "Undun," a song written by Canadian guitar virtuoso Randy Bachman, and made famous by the Guess Who, a rock band that Bachman and Burton Cummings led to stardom during the seventies. Milman’s bassist Keiran Overs’ smooth touch, played a key role in allowing us to hear this song, and accept it as a pop jazz tune. Cameron Wallis who plays the saxophone for Milman, did his best to impersonate Cummings with his flute. Pianist Shrofel slid over to the electric keyboard, and laid down some fine chops.
In a tribute to her homeland of Russia, Milman sung one song entirely in Russian, and whether by coincidence or purposely, followed it with "Matchmaker," from the musical Fiddler On The Roof, a song that nods to both her Jewish and Russian heritage.
The only disappointing aspect of this concert did not come from Sophie Milman, or the talented musicians who shared the stage with her, but by the failure of Vancouverites to step up to the plate and fill the seats in the auditorium. I was astounded by the number of empty seats at a concert presented by world-class entertainers such as Milman and Michael Kaeshammer who preceded her. Halfway through Kaeshammer’s set people were still finding their seats, on an evening when weather was not a factor. However, you want to dress that up Vancouver, shame on you.