Barbara Montgomery Quartet
Old Pine Street Church (Philadelphia) September 21, 1997
A Presbyterian church is the last place one expects to hear free jazz concerts, but that’s exactly what listeners can find once a month at the Old Pine Street Church in Philadelphia. The Jazz Vespers series, as it’s called, has been going on at Old Pine Street since 1986, although the church itself is much olderin fact, it dates back to the late 18th Century. Old Pine Street, located just a few blocks from Philly’s trendy South Street nightclub area, was vehemently abolitionist and welcomed ex-slaves who had escaped The South via the Underground Railroad.
On Septemer 21, Old Pine Street presented Philly’s Barbara Montgomery, an expressive singer whose style is sort of Sarah Vaughan meets Chris Connor. Joined by her working group (which includes the lyrical acoustic pianist John D’Amico, electric bassist Kenny Davis and drummer Jim Miller), Montgomery was in good form on everything from “Spring Can Really Hang You Up The Most” to a bossa nova version of Horace Silver’s “Song For My Father.” Embracing Annie Ross’ zany lyrics to Wardell Gray’s “Twisted” seemed inappropriate in a church, though Montgomery did omit Ross’ reference to drinking a fifth of vodka as a child. One hopes that eventually, the talented singer will become better known outside of Philly.
Reprinted with the permission of Myrna Daniels and L.A. Jazz Scene, the largest jazz publication in Southern California.