The Butterfly with Roar in Melbourne, Australia & Los Angeles, CA This Summer!
Here is an article published by The Chicago Tribune
Howard Reich, Arts critic - May 26, 2011
When the accomplished Chicago jazz singer Spider Saloff takes the stage at Katerina's on Saturday night, she'll be bidding the city farewell — but just for awhile. "It's really a bon voyage party," says Saloff, who soon will be spending a month in Melbourne, Australia, where she'll unveil her long-in-gestation one-woman show, "The Roar of the Butterfly."
Though Saloff had done previews of the piece last fall at the Wilmette Theatre, when she called the evening "Entertaining Guests," she regards the Melbourne premiere as the official launch of a show that marks a major change of direction in her art.
Or at least a dramatic expansion of it. For though Saloff has devoted her career — until now — to interpreting what's often termed the Great American Songbook, "The Roar of the Butterfly" is built around nine songs she wrote. Moreover, Saloff also penned the book, in which she plays fully eight characters.
"It's based around a (fictional) memorial service for an Asian drag queen named Butterfly," explains Saloff. "But the people attending the memorial all know him from completely different walks of life. It's about how one person's life changes so many others."
This may sound like a far stretch from Saloff's life as a veteran Chicago jazz singer, but the piece — from which she'll sing some excerpts at Katerina's — carries more than a little autobiography. For inasmuch as "Butterfly" examines the after-effects of a life that has ended, it gives Saloff an opportunity to address the sudden, unexpected death of her husband two years ago, of a heart attack.
"In this play, I talk about human loss, and I was able to express the loss of my husband — but through the eyes of someone else," says Saloff, who had been married to Bob Drake for nearly 19 years. "There's a song (in the show) about loss that I'm very happy with. It's called 'Deep Inside the Rain.' "
The beautifully crafted ballad shows Saloff grappling with the pain of losing someone, but also trying to transcend it, through music.
When Saloff began creating her one-woman show, in 2001, she of course had no idea she eventually would be dealing with such heady issues. Back then, the conception of the piece was much more explicitly about her life as a jazz singer and, more important, it was built on well-known songs she had performed for years
Eventually, she put the piece away, only to come back to it in 2008, at that point deciding that she wanted to write her own songs (two of them were penned in collaboration with other musicians). Moreover, she wanted to remove herself as a character in the drama. Ironically, the story she invented better enabled her to probe her emotional inner life, she says, through the guise of characters she has created.
Saloff expects the show to play in Los Angeles late this summer, with a hoped-for run in Chicago in the fall. Until then, Chicago listeners will be hearing her in club and concert settings, such as this weekend's Katerina's date.
How's life on the jazz circuit for Saloff, who moved here from New York with her husband in 1993 and never looked back? "I'm doing fantastic," she says, though getting past the recent second anniversary of her husband's death was challenging.
Apart from that, "I love everything about my life. Yes, I wish I had more money, but who doesn't? "Everybody wishes the jazz business was more lucrative than it is. But that's why I have felt compelled to use my talent in other ways." As in "The Roar of the Butterfly," which later this year should give us a deeper look in to Saloff's art and life.