There has been a well-kept entertainment secret in town and it has recently added jazz to its bill of fare. Snugly nestled into the west side of the Glendale Mall at 6101 N. Keystone Ave. in the old Houlihan’s site is the House Cafe + Music. What makes the House so different from other clubs is that it is non-smoking, with no alcoholic beverages served and with an emphasis on no swearing on site by patrons and performers. The House puts an emphasis on youth and young adults after school and church. It’s a Christian coffee house/restaurant with a state-of-the-art cabaret theater that can comfortably hold 250. Bill Johnson is the executive director of this unique experiment that is now 1 year old and proudly proclaimed part of what is his ministry: “The House has a unique focus in acquiring secular artists that have been granted God-given talent in music and the arts. Our goal is to encourage all artists to create uplifting and hopeful music and artwork.” I was invited to what was a combination CD release event and the experimental combining of two local smooth jazz groups last Thursday. The Fred Sights Project with Sights as leader/keyboardist/composer and arranger teamed up with the X-Factor band led by saxophonist Phil Hampton with singer Barbara Epps. A special guest was added to this musical mix in violinist Nathan Klatt. Walking into The House Cafe theater was a big surprise with its tranquil, light pastel green color that puts you in a relaxed mood, with cabaret tables for dining during performances. The two groups combined their players with a lineup of Fred Sights on keyboards, Phil Hampton on saxophone, Lee Talbot on guitar, David Hampton on drums, Alan Banks on bass, Nathan Klatt on violin and Barbara Epps’ vocals and percussion. They opened with Sights featured on a Joe Sample contemporary jazz tune, “X Marks the Spot.” Sights was right in the groove with a gospel accent. A warm and heartfelt composition for his wife was “Marshelle’s Sunrise.” The full group jumped into a smooth jazz R&B groove with an ear-catching theme played by Phil Hampton’s soprano sax and Nathan Klatt’s violin. Funky riffs drove Hampton’s sax solo as he dug into the groove with counter accent lines from Klatt’s violin, who then played a singing-toned groove solo. Both played well off of each other with some get-down rhythm support anchored by Dave Hampton’s drums. The whole ensemble caught fire on “Brighter Moments,” with composer Phil Hampton’s alto sax solo fanning the flames for five choruses as the crowd pushed the band with timekeeping hand clapping. Another highlight was when singer Barbara Epps stepped to the mike and told her story on Burt Bacharach’s hit, “Déjà Vu.” With her rich powerhouse contralto and big vibrato, no matter what Epps is singing her stage presence and dramatic style command your attention. She wrings every nuance of enunciation out of a word and phrase. She was a complete breakup on her original, “Glass City,” taking abstract words and delivering them with a rapid-fire delivery. These two bands have released a CD, Together As One. The House Cafe + Music is a welcome addition to the arts and now a new outlet for smooth Christian jazz every Thursday from 8 to 10 p.m. with the Fred Sights Project as the house jazz group. Currently, The House Cafe + Music is an ecumenical effort supported by 11 churches throughout the city and is seeking the efforts of more area churches as a not-for-profit corporation. This is a great place for grade schoolers to grandmas, with the restaurant serving seven days a week from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, and Friday and Saturday 7 a.m. to midnight, and Sunday noon to 6 p.m. The rest of the theater week offers indie band nights on Mondays; poetry, DJ competition on Wednesdays; and Dance Club for 18 and over on Saturdays. Like the CD, coming to the House Cafe + Music is “Together as One.” Jazz happenings
Its officially summer, so as it heats up outside, chill off inside with some cool jazz sounds in town. Downtown
The Chatterbox has the Jason Curry Quartet playing Friday, June 27 followed by the Latin/Cuban/Afro sound of Urbanos on Saturday, June 28. Sets both nights run from 10:30 p.m. to 2 a.m. with a cover. Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse “Sizzling Steaks and Jazz” Sunday welcomes back the Rob Dixon Quartet June 29, playing 7 to 10 p.m. Fountain Square Theatre will feature Tim Brickley’s Group for swing night Friday, June 27 from 8:30 to 11:30 p.m. At the Artsgarden, the Tommy Wills Band will play at noon Friday, June 27. Nicky Blaine’s has Cozy and Her Fellas on Mondays, The Four Sexes on Tuesdays and Tommy Wills Quartet Wednesdays and Thursdays. Music all nights goes 9 p.m. to 1 a.m. Jillian’s presents Conga Jazz playing Friday, June 27, 9 p.m. to 1 a.m. Northside
The Jazz Kitchen takes on the award-winning Latin sound of the Afro-Rican Ensemble for shows at 8:30 and 10:30 p.m. Friday, June 27. It’s high energy and a get-down dance groove when Seven Pleasures’ acid jazz and hip-bop sound is featured at 9 and 11 p.m. Saturday, June 28. Chuck Workman is the producer/host of the Sunday Morning Jazz Show at 107.9 WTPI.