by Roger Zotti
Anita Baker at the MGM Grand Theater
Never mind the details, but Detroit-raised Anita Baker took a long break from recording and touring in 1994 - at the height of her career – to raise a family. What she did, wrote James M. Manheim and Tom Pendergast, was “[playing] the role of mom, joining the local PTA, and shuttling her kids to school activities. She also nursed her foster parents through the last years of their lives.” Anita returned in 2003 and issued her album “My Everything.”
As Norwich’s Rose Aksterowicz put it, “Anita Baker is one singer who sounds the same in concert as she does on her CDs, which we know can’t be said about too many artists.” Anita, a six-time Grammy Award winner, and one of the most talented performers in the music business, appeared August 7 at the MGM Grand at Foxwoods.
Mixing soul, jazz, and romance, Anita offered “Sweet Love,” “Caught Up in the Rapture,” and “Watch Your Step” from “Rapture,” her smash 1986 album. From her 1994 “Rhythm of Love” album, Anita treated the audience to “I Apologize” and “Body and Soul,” From her 1988 “Giving You the Best That I Got” album, she had the crowd on its feet with “Just Because” and the album’s title track.
Highlights… Anita continually expressed her gratitude to the appreciative audience for her success (She’s a performer of twenty-plus years.) … Early on she said, “Remember, I’m an earthy girl. So if you want to sing with me, then sing. If you want to get up and dance, then dance. If you want to talk to me, then talk.” So, people sang along. People danced. People talked to her and she responded… Her stunning alto voice still intense, sophisticated, and powerful. Anita is rarely stationary. She covers the entire stage and gets quite a workout. Always gives each song a little extra something. Laughs a lot. Clearly, she’s happy to be back performing – and so are we.
Ed Torello: A Tribute
“Old timers in the New Haven area still talk about this. Ed [Torello] was an infielder with the West Haven Sailors, a semi-pro baseball team that played its home games at Donovan Field, West Haven. The year was either 1948 or ‘49. Well, Ed chased a fly ball deep and made a sensational, over the shoulder catch, and promptly collided with the wall, knocking himself out – but he held on to the ball,” said Bob Riccio of Brattleboro, VT, Ed Torello’s nephew.
Ed was a genuinely personable and likable man, Bob said. He made friends with fans and many Major League ballplayers: “He once introduced me to three great New York Yankees, Hank Bauer, Phil Rizzuto, and Yogi Berra, before an exhibition game in Hartford. It was a day I’ll never forget. Another friend was Jimmy Piersall, of the Red Sox and Mets, who often dined with Ed and his wife at their home.”
On and off the playing field Ed’s accomplishments were many. In 1936, while playing for the Fafnir Ball Bearing Company, he hit an amazing .544, easily winning the league’s batting title. When his playing days were over, he helped organize youth baseball in his hometown of New Haven. In 1956, as coach of the Babe Ruth All-Stars, Ed’s team represented New England in the Babe Ruth World Series, in Oregon.
There’s more. When Ed was 14, he represented CT in the National Junior Olympics and came home with two Gold Medals. “[At those Olympics] he threw a hardball 351 feet,” Bob said. “Major League scouts were interested, and they watched him during his senior year at Hillhouse High School, in 1930. But the crash of ‘29 interfered. Ed refused their offers. The minors, you see, didn’t pay much. For him family came first. He needed a twelve-month job to help his family, which had lost its finances.”
On June 22, 2008, Ed passed away at 95-years-old. He was married seventy years to Adele Riccio Torello. He also leaves a son, Edward Torello of Branford.
Congratulations to Bethany’s Amanda Kaletsky. Along with her excellent band, the young lady with the pristine voice, who writes her own songs and plays keyboard, opened for Coldplay, in Hartford, August 2. A few days later Amanda sang the National Anthem at Shea Stadium before the New York Mets game.
Also, she’ll be performing at The Space in Hamden, August 24. “It’s kid friendly. No alcohol allowed,” said her dad, author Rick Kaletsky, adding that her “website is amandakaletsky.com, and there’s a free song download on the site.”