After performing with wedding and top forty bands, today Betty concentrates on her favorite style of music -- the jazz of the 1920's through the 40's -- Dixieland, Swing, Ballads and Big Band. She has been featured in jazz festivals and events throughout the United States plus in London and Stockholm - and will be featured for the eighth year in the 2021 www.SuncoastJazzClassic.com in Clearwater, Fl.
Betty was contacted to produce a number of Jazz Concerts in NJ and NY shopping malls. They featured top artists including; John and Bucky Pizzarelli, Al Cohn, Ronny Whyte, Warren Vache', "The Harlem Blues & Jazz Band", Vince Giordano's Nighthawks, "The Speakeasy Jazz Babies" and many others. In several shopping malls, Betty's "Cats & Jammers" strolling jazz band music appealed to folks from 5 to 95. A reporter called her "Queen of the Mall". As Entertainment Co-ordinator for several restaurants, she worked within the allotted budget to the benefit of owner, the musicians and the patrons....keeping live music afloat.
"Betty's Jazz Pix" radio show interviews (WFDU)in the 1990's in NJ/NY included Dick Hyman, Ken Burns, Ed Polcer, Darryl Sherman, Jack Petersen, Cynthia Sayer, Ruby Vinson, Vince Giordano, Bucky Pizzarelli plus others. You can hear them on this website. Isn't tech stuff amazing? NJ "Entertainment Guide" wrote "There's no typecasting for this musical chameleon. One night she's a throwback to the sophisticated '40s, playing cool jazz piano and singing tunes reminiscent of Billie Holiday and Lee Wiley. The next night, bedecked in flapper dress and feather boa, she's tearing up the house with a rowdy version of 'Hard Hearted Hannah'."
Betty Sokolow (Cliffside Park, NJ) married Owen Comora and raised Michael, Cathy and David in Paramus, NJ. She and Owen ("Birdman"), became full-time residents of Sarasota, Florida in 2002 . They are grandparents to Ben, Emily, Sage and Teddy. As Associate Producer for PBS documentary ,"Palisades Amusement Park: A Century of Fond Memories", she interviewed celebrities including Walter Cronkite, Cousin Brucie, John Sebastion, and many others. Her son, David was Executive Producer and KEN BURNS, the Award-Winning documentary filmmaker narrated. This was a labor of love for Betty who worked in the cotton candy booth at Palisades Park as a teenager. Fond Memories, indeed.
Accumulated volunteer skills paid off when Betty became Vice President of an award-winning NYC TV Publicity firm 1989 to 1999. She handled all the bookkeeping, contacted and interviewed celebrities and producers, wrote national press releases -- and also slept with the President ---(of the firm) Owen Comora Associates (for which she was highly rewarded). On a sad note, Owen passed away in 2017.
Since moving to Sarasota, Betty has enjoyed a variety of roles in the Player's Centre and in Manatee Players. Her favorite role was "Grandma" in Jeffery Kin's creative "Pete's Repair Shop" which played both theaters. As the Angel, Grandma, she sang, played piano, banjo and washboard and spoons. It was a role 'to die for'.
Betty wrote "PAPA", a humorous and touching show, based upon true family anecdotes. Its not a "Father Knows Best" example. This show was performed serveral times in The Meadows.
She wrote/produced "A MIXED BLESSING, AN AMERICAN FAIRY TALE" based on true life experiences. This 13 minute film is used in discussion groups for students and for adults. It dramatizes the controversy of celebrating religious holidays in public schools - and how this can affect a youngster's life...resulting in lifelong emotional scars. Local actor/singer, John Russo portrays the school Principal.
"FANNY BRICE TELLS ALL", is a very popular one-woman, one-hour show which Betty wrote and performs in. More information on this program is available on the Fanny page of this website or watch the program on the video to the right.
"SONGBIRDS OF JAZZ", a one hour program during which Betty recalls female Jazz singers with anecdotes and song samples.. (as pianist/vocalist), This includes a diverse variety of singers and why they fall under the same heading ..."Jazz". From Sophie Tucker to Billie Holiday to Diana Krall. This show can be performed solo or with additional musicians.
"JEWS IN JAZZ" focuses on the music and some anecdotes about Irving Berlin, the Gershwins, Benny Goodman and more. It can be performed solo or additional musicians can be added.
"ALL THOSE JAZZES" made it's Sarasota debut at the Jazz Club in April. Betty wrote this show to explain and demonstrate the wide variety of music..all falling under the huge umbrella term...JAZZ! From Ragtime, Dixieland, Blues, Chicago Style, Big Band, Bebop, Latin Jazz, etc. Such an amazing diversity of sounds. Jazz club members called the one hour show 'Brilliant', 'Entertaining', 'Informative', etc. This progam is a natural for Program Chairman of local communities, Social clubs, Adult Learning organizations, etc. Many folks find that they actually DO like 'Jazz'...but only one or two forms of it. No one seems to like ALL variations. We present this with lighthearted, amusing narration and the musicians are all top notch.
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