This Spider spins a magical web


Bloomington, IL

Thursday February 22 2018

Dan Craft

This Spider spins a magical web

Spider Saloff: Not your typical très chic jazz singer handle.

“It’s a college nickname that would’t go away,” confesses the former New Yorker who switched home bases to Chicago in 1993. It came about, and stuck, because … well, because “I have very long legs and arms, very long hands, and a very short torso.”

Just like that certain member of the arachnid family.Lo these many years later, she calls the nickname “one of the best things that ever happened to me … I love it, love it.”

For fans of Gershwin, Berlin, Porter and all the other Great American Songbook providers, the same could be said for what’s in store for us Saturday night in Illinois Wesleyan University’s Memorial Center.When she comes along, we’ll definitely want to sit down beside her, Miss Muffet-style.

The occasion: Saloff in an intimate, cabaret-style concert that is serving as a fundraiser for Autism McLean, which this year is celebrating its 15th anniversary supporting McLean County individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder.

“She has a wicked way with a  lyric, and a glint of self-controlled mischief,” wrote a New York Times critic, happily ensnared in her web.”She’s slyly sophisticated, easily accessible,” observed her hometown Chicago Tribune, also ensnared, willingly. “One of the finest jazz singers working in this or any other city.”

In addition to Saloff’s center-stage performance, the evening will also include a silent art auction featuring 70 items from local and nationally recognized artists.Among those items are film actor Val Kilmer’s laser-cut steel piece, “Love Forever”; a piece from digital painter Leigh Barbier, who has worked for Lucasfilm Ltd.  on several “Star Wars” sequels; and local sculptor Rick Harney’s Abraham Lincoln bas-relief sculpture in cast resin.

“I’m delighted to be coming back,” says Saloff, who has passed our way in grand style several times over the past two decades, including, most memorably, as the star of an all-Gershwin concert with the Illinois Symphony Orchestra.

This time, she’s bringing with her “two of my favorites from Chicago — Jeremy Kahn on piano and Jim Cox on bass. Both of these guys are fantastic, and have toured internationally with me as well.”

Between Spider’s vocals and the instrumental support, she promises a complete transportation to what could pass for one of the top jazz/cabaret rooms in Chicago, New York or Paris.

Saloff herself has long been ranked as one of the world’s premier Gershwin interpreters, as well as one of its finest jazz vocalists … period.

For starters, she was handpicked by the Gershwin family as one of the sanctioned performers on the Gershwin Centennial Tour, which began in 1996 with the 100th anniversary of Ira Gershwin’s birth and gained momentum in 1998 with the 100th anniversary of brother George’s arrival.

During this period, she headlined the biggest Gershwin festival in the world: the St. Petersburg Gershwin Festival in Russia (the family’s ancestral birthplace).

“They were a really wild audience there … they were standing on their chairs screaming,” she recalled in an earlier GO! interview.

Today, Spider Saloff still a Gershwin cheerleader, as well as one of the country’s most vocal boosters of the Great American Songbook in general … a passion that led to her co-creating and co-hosting the internationally syndicated NPR series, “Words and Music” (no longer aired ..,. but succeeded by her own current weekly podcast, “Spider’s Web” at www.blubrry.com/spidersweb/).

She calls her interpretative approach as the aforementioned songbook “presented in a very contemporary way, with jazzy stylings and some stories behind the songs.”

In her New York days, Saloff was a regular at such landmark venues as Michael’s Pub, the Russian Tea Room, the Algonquin, Feinstein’s and Birdland. After the Chicago transplant in 1993, you could find her anywhere with an ear for good music, from the legendary Green Mill to the Fairmont Hotel.

These days, you’ll likely find her at new and/or currently happening venues like Winter’s Jazz Club on the Chicago Riverwalk (April 10); the famous downtown seafood restaurant Catch 35 (April 14); and “the beautiful and spectacular and glamorous and very, very chic” PianoForte on Michigan Avenue, where she’ll be doing her new one-woman Peggy Lee tribute show in its Chicago debut (April 8).

For her trek downstate this weekend, Spider assures us she’ll be spinning a musical web guaranteed to make us her willing prey.

BYO curds and whey?

No, she says.

“Just come prepared to have a whole lot of fun.”




The Cool Heat of Peggy Lee

She still remains a music icon, Miss Peggy Lee.  Singer, songwriter, actress, star of film and televisibistro 1on and as co-creator and vocal star of “Lady and the Tramp” was the first person to win a lawsuit against Disney, Lee was a trailblazer!  Spider Saloff pays homage to the smoldering understated style of Peggy Lee, tracing her story from her humble beginnings through the glamour of the 1950’s and 60’s and her continued chart breaking recordings.


The concert includes her classic jazz hits as well her pop music classics.  Saloff presents all of this with her unique comic wit and a contemporary twist that will appeal to audiences of all ages!


The Cool Heat of Peggy Lee can be presented with piano, bass and voice, or with quartet or quintet.  

Featured songs:




Why Don’t You Do Right?

The Best is Yet to Come

Is That All There Is?

Black Coffee

He’s a Tramp


“Peggy Lee was the superb jazz-pop singer smoldered in concert and on record, consistently affirming the power of musical understate.  Chicago singer Spider Saloff, a seasoned and admired cabaret artist, will pay homage to Lee. Slyly sophisticated, easily accessible, Saloff stands as a kind of ideal.”

Chicago Tribune


The Memory of All That: Gershwin Tribute


One of Spider’s most beloved and critically acclaimed works is her Gershwin concert.

She was chosen by the Gershwin family as one of the sanctioned acts of the Gershwin Centennial.  Saloff toured the concert nationally to established venues such as Feinstein’s in NYC (which Michael Feinstein attended).  Internationally, the show played in London and headlined the St. Petersburg Gershwin Festival in Russia and continues to garner raves from audiences and the press.


The concert features Gershwin classics alongside rare pieces provided by the Gershwin Trust specifically for Saloff.  The concert includes personal stories about the music and the fascinating life of the Gershwins.


The Memory of All That can be presented with piano and voice, with trio, quartet or quintet.  And can be presented in a full program for full symphony orchestra.


Featured songs:
They Can’t Take That Away From Me


Embraceable You

Someone To Watch Over Me

I Got Rhythm

Love is Here to Stay



“How could anyone find anything new to say about such classics? Saloff effectively strips away the familiar turns of phrase to which this music has been subjected for more than half a century, which renders the Gershwin songs as crisp, lucid and plain to the ear as they must have sounded generations ago.”

Chicago Trubune




Swell Party: Cole Porter Celebration


Spider Saloff, the image of a modern day “flapper “, captures the jazz age in her celebration of Cole Porter. spider saloffHe was the toast of the jazz age and the ultimate party animal, Cole Porter! The concert features a collection of music from the composer/lyricist that has remains timeless to this day.
Saloff creates a wildly fun yet perceptive look into the life of the controversial genius and major figure of the American Songbook. Porter classics will be presented but Saloff with a contemporary twist but with a flare of the 1920’s and 30’s.

Song choices will range from the familiar to the obscure.  And the tales of Porter’s personal life are told with wit detail.  It is a tribute to Porter that is beyond compare!


Swell Party can be presented with piano and voice, with trio, quartet or quintet.  And can be presented in a select program for full symphony orchestra.


Featured songs:

Night and Day

So in Love

I’ve Got You Under My Skin

You’d Be So Nice to Come Home To

Everytime We Say Goodbye


“If there is a greater, more electric and sensitive singer on the planet than Spider Saloff, my ears eagerly await.”

    -Rick Kogan

                                        Chicago Tribune/ WGN Super Station



Irving Berlin: The American Dream


Rising up from his life as a poor Russian immigrant to world fame, Berlin stands as the essence of The American Dream.  His body of work covers 6 decades.  With a personal endorsement from the Irving Berlin family, Saloff presents a touching and beautiful portrait of Berlin’s life and music, filled with funny and amazing antidotes of the songwriter’s life and career. Berlin truly lived the American Dream and was an amazing influence and motivator during the years of both World Wars.

Irving Berlin can be presented with piano and voice, with trio, quartet or quintet.   

Featured songs:


Blue Skies

Cheek To Cheek

Puttin On The Ritz

How Deep Is The Ocean

Let’s Face The Music

There’s No Business Like Show Business


“I and cannot tell you how moved I was by the way you turned an anthem into a love song in your rendition of “There’s No Business Like Show Business”.  It was very personal as if you knew that “Show Business” was after all my father’s serenade to the business he loved.”

_ Mary Ellin Barrett

                                        Irving Berlin’s daughter




Spider Saloff’s Sondheim

Spider SaloffThe concert is a retrospective on the life of Stephen Sondheim and a collection of songs by America’s most celebrated, living composer for musical theater.  Saloff will take a fresh approach to Sondheim, capturing the art of popular songs which stand alone, apart from the musicals they were composed for.


Saloff will perform many of the beloved classics along with a few rare gems. She’ll interweave both jazz and theatrical treatments of the songs and storytelling presented with her own special unusual twist for an unforgettable evening.
Sondheim can be presented with piano and voice, with trio, or quartet.


Featured songs:


Comedy Tonight

Some People

Ladies Who Lunch

Losing My Mind

Broadway Baby


“I’ve heard most Sondheim numbers numerous times, but I found myself paying closer attention to the lyrics given Spider’s unique and powerful interpretation. Her inclusion of a couple of lesser known Sondheim numbers from films provided even Sondheim fans with a wider look at the breadth of work of this American legend. Saloff doesn’t just sing Sondheim, she lives and breathes him thru a full embodiment of rich interpretation!”

                        –Dr. Paul Lisnek,

                                                Broadway in Chicago

                                                Comcast Network



Cool Yule Holiday Celebration

cool yuleSpider Saloff’s Cool Yule is a collection of Holiday classics and a few rare gems presented in a fresh modern style that will please audiences of all ages.  Saloff also includes some her own holiday stories about the songs and her own memories.


It is a lively and festive and hip twist on Christmas and holiday celebration! Her recording “Cool Yule” was not only a finalist for the Independent record awards, but received endorsements from composers, Steve Allen and Hugh Martin.


Cool Yule can be presented with piano and voice, with trio, quartet or quintet.  And can be presented in a select program for full symphony orchestra.


Featured songs:

Santa Claus is Coming to Town

Cool Yule

Santa Baby

Christmastime is Here

Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas


“It’s one of the best Christmas albums that I’ve ever heard-forget Christmas, it’s one of the best ALBUMS I’ve ever heard.”

-Hugh Martin

                        Composer/Lyricist, Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas

Additional American Songbook Concerts

Ms. Saloff has performed the works of so many great composers and has created so many concert pieces.  Here is a list of additional works that are available upon request.

All can be performed with just piano and voice up to 6 instruments.




Isn’t It Romantic?  The Music of Richard Rogers

The Way You Look Tonight: The Music of Jerome Kern


 Inside the A Train: The Music of Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn

Steppin Out: The Musical Life of Fred Astaire 

Moon River: The Songs of Johnny Mercer

Over the Rainbow: The Music of Harold Arlen

Spider Salute’s Sinatra

Speakeasy: The Songs from Prohibition


A Musical Tribute to Ella Fitzgerald

trio shotELLA! ELLA! ELLA!
A Musical Tribute to Ella Fitzgerald

Featuring the 3 Ellas:
Frieda Lee
Spider Saloff
Dee Alexander

This magical music evening was created as a tribute to The First Lady of Song, Ella Fitzgerald. The “3 Ellas” were initially chosen by the famed Chicago Jazz Orchestra to perform a concert of Ella’s American Songbook arrangements.
The formal concert was such a great success and the 3 ladies had such a wonderful time working together, that they have created this special tribute that is a more intimate look at Ella Fitzgerald.

Lee, Saloff, and Alexander, all acclaimed vocalists, have distinctly different voices but all perform the Ella songbook with true reverence to the jazz legend.

Another unique feature of the concert is that the harmonious energy that these 3 divas have onstage together is unsurpassed.Poznan 3 ellas1

They were received with standing ovations in such venues as:

Jazz Festival, Poznan, Poland

Millennium Park, Chicago Jazz Festival (over 26,000 in attendance)
Rockefeller Chapel: Hyde Park Jazz Fest (over 1500 in attendance)
Hoogland Center for the Arts, Springfield, IL
Chicago Humanities Festival
Thornton Auditorium
Room 43 concert space, Chicago
Wentz Auditorium, Naperville
The University Club of Chicago
Katerina’s Supper Club
Pritzker Auditorium
Pick-Staiger Hall
Prairie Arts Center
City Winery, Chicago

The show not only is an energetic and fun evening of music, but has a level of glamour and showmanship that thrills audiences of all ages.

This concert can be performed with just piano or with a jazz duo, trio or quartet.  For full symphony production you must contact http://www.chicagojazzorchestra.org/


“Each singer had something significant to say….Singer Lee hardly could have sounded more gauzily seductive in Embraceable You. …Saloff with her lightning quick riffs and ultra-high-register cries a fitting tribute to Fitzgerald….to hear Alexander was to recognize her prowess in extending Fitzgerald’s legacy. “Jazz singing is a profoundly sensual art, at least when Dee Alexander, Frieda Lee and Spider Saloff are standing before the microphones. These vocalists revel in the voluptuousness of their sound, its lush tones, its breathy phrases, and its palpable ardor. Yes, the words remain important to these artists, but it’s the lustrous beauty of their lines that ultimately sell the song.”
Howard Reich, Chicago Tribune.ellas at M park

Dee Alexander
Frieda Lee
Spider Saloff