VALENTINE'S DAY is getting some heartfelt presentations this February at several clubs with many more having just great jazz gigs. CHRIS' JAZZ CAFE, 1421 Sansom St., (215-568-3131) has: a memorial concert for Christine Donaue Feb. 11 at 3 p.m. for just $10 with proceeds to the Pediatric Brain Foundation. It features Eric Alexander, John Swana, Chris Farr, Tony Micelli. Rory Haynes and Dan Monaghan. Ms Donahue was a young lady loved by all who had the good fortune to meet her.
On Valentine's Day, two of the sweetest singing pop jazz artists anywhere, Meg Clifton and Mary Ellen Desmond, will be at Chris singing time-tested songs by America's sophisticated songsmith Cole Porter for a $15 cover.
Victor North, Swana, Matt Mitchell, Dave Brodie, Jim Schade back them.
Frank Morgan, jazz sax legend, will be there Feb. 17 with the inimitable John Swana and his Quartet. They will be featuring the music of Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie 9p.m.-1 a.m.,for a $15 cover.
KIMMEL CENTER, Broad and Chestnut Streets, (215-893-1999) Valentine Day will have singing sensation, two-time Grammy winner, Sylvia McNair. She's a cabaret, former opera singer, but the torch songs (by Johnny Mercer, Harold Arlen, et al) she will be doing have distinctive jazz overtones. Tickets are $50-43 at Perelman Hall. Geri Allen's jazz piano will be joined by the smoldering sax of Ravi Coltrane honoring the Detroit jazz world Ms Allen hails from. It will be at the Perelman, Feb. 11 at 7:30 p.m. for $41-36. She covers the jazz waterfront and was first recipient of Soul Train's Lady of Soul Award in 1995 . Son of the the famed John Coltrane and keyboardist Alice Coltrane, Ravi worked with such greats as Elvin Jones. He has become a star in his own right.
ZANZIBAR BLUE, Broad and Walnut Streets, (215-732-4500) brings in torrid torch singer Gloria Alende for Valentine's Day with several steaming stars set for the weekends. They include: Kevin Mahogany, a master of ballads, blues and basic jazz vocals. Hailing from Kansas City, he has been called "one of the most gifted male vocalists to emerge in year. He will be there Feb. 10-11 with show times at 7:45 p.m-10 p.m. for $30 cover. Kenny Rankin, singer, songwriter, guitarist will bring his distinctive jazz voicings of some three decades to the club on Feb. 12, 7:45-10 p.m with a $25 cover. His songs have been done by Mel Torme and Carmen McRae among others. He has been called a singer's singer and goes from pop to blues and rock.
Marion Meadows comes in Feb. 17-18 at 7:45-10p.m., for a $30 cover. His singular sax work has accompanied such stars as Ertha Kitt.
ANNENBERG CENTER'S ZELLERBACK THEATRE, 3680 Walnut Street, (215) 898- 3900 gets a head start on Valentine's Day Feb. 11 at 8 p.m. with top jazz vocalist Dee Dee Bridgewater's return for a $47-22 range cover. She can go from Billie Holiday to Carmen and Sally Bowles and is host of NPR's JazzSet. She can, as they say, do it all.
Ortlieb's Jazz Haus, 847 N. Third St., (215) 952-1035, as customary as a full plate of jazz with Feb. 10-11 bringing in Dave Schnitter on tenor sax and the always exciting Sid Simmons Trio for $5 at 8:45 p.m-1:30 a.m.. Feb. 17 its Stan Wilson on tenor sax with the powerhouse Mickey Roker Quartet and on Feb. 18 Roker will be supporting vocalist Nina Bundy.
And every Wednesday there is the irrepressible horn of everyone's favorite, Bootsie Barnes.
LA ROSE JAZZ SUPPER CLUB, 5531 Germantown Ave., (215) 248-4415 every weekend features a jazz valentine of sorts to the city with the Tony Williams Quartet and an occasional surprise guest. Williams and his guys play the kind of jazz that makes you glad you were there. Call for details.
I was first exposed to jazz circa 1973, when I met a fellow who ran Kappy's Record Store over near 10th Ave., on 42nd St. in NYC. We really clicked and when I told him I played piano and went to Music & Art HS, and had just started at City College of NY as a music major, he asked if I liked jazz...I said yes but I didn't know much about it, but that I did have sheet music for many popular 1920's through 1940's tunes by noted composers (Porter; Gershwins; Irving Berlin; Rodgers & Hammerstein/Hart; Jerome Kern; Lerner & Loewe; etc.) that my mother had sung beautifully starting in the 1940's including tons of famous show tunes, and I played many of those songs already
I was first exposed to jazz circa 1973, when I met a fellow who ran Kappy's Record Store over near 10th Ave., on 42nd St. in NYC. We really clicked and when I told him I played piano and went to Music & Art HS, and had just started at City College of NY as a music major, he asked if I liked jazz...I said yes but I didn't know much about it, but that I did have sheet music for many popular 1920's through 1940's tunes by noted composers (Porter; Gershwins; Irving Berlin; Rodgers & Hammerstein/Hart; Jerome Kern; Lerner & Loewe; etc.) that my mother had sung beautifully starting in the 1940's including tons of famous show tunes, and I played many of those songs already. SOOOO... he started me off LP's by Oscar Peterson, Art Tatum, Bud Powell, Errol Garner, Bill Evans, Monty Alexander, Charlie Byrd, and Dave Brubeck... does it get any better than that? ...No, it doesn't. I was hooked!!
I met and had a master class with the late music giant John Lewis, leader of the Modern Jazz Quartet! This was at CCNY in 1977. I was blessed! It was an incredible class... how could it have been anything else?!?!
The first jazz record I bought was...I bought numerous records from my friend at the record store, as mentioned above. He introduced me to nothing but music giants/legends! I think The Dave Brubeck Quartet, Greatest Hits, was actually the first one.
My advice to new listeners... study first--understand the rudiments--solfeggio, keys, scales, and basic chords. Read a book or take a class that includes the study of chord progressions, especially in jazz. It should ideally be a piano class so you can play multiple notes together. Have a good EAR or else it's not really worth it in my view...to become a musician, a good EAR for music is about as fundamental as breathing! Learn to read chord charts--i.e., lead sheets - wherein you play various voicings of the chords--major, minor, dominant 7th (alterations of these, you can learn over time - the basic chords are most important for starters), plus the melody, on the piano or keyboard. If you have to read the exact notes, then it's not the same as actually internalizing it & getting it all into your head. If you can do this, I think you're ready not only for listening to jazz, but understanding many concepts of it! Of course...anyone can listen to jazz... but I think it's so good to also have a grasp of it.