Annette St. John At Smoke’s Sunday Brunch
Annette St. John At Smoke’s Sunday Brunch – Weekly gig; footage from Super Sunday 2/5/17
Heading over to Smoke, the Upper West Side venue, to hear some wonderful music from Annette St. John and her trio is a very clever move on any given Sunday especially now that football season is over. St. John’s voice fills the room with tasteful tunes mostly drawn from the greatest female vocal jazz artists and the Great American Songbook with the occasional curveball. She’s got charm to go with talent; engaging with the audience and always creating a welcoming and intimate atmosphere. She remarked that some of her material goes back to recorded music played in her home growing up which goes some way to explaining her command of her material. With the mighty Bill Moring on upright bass, ‘Traps’ Willie Martinez on drums, and ivory tickler extraordinaire Les Kurtz on piano – not a lot can go wrong!
Patience Higgins, who plays all saxes as well as clarinet, flute, oboe, and English horn, made a special appearance this past Sunday during St. John’s first set. I’ve been fortunate enough to see those two on stage together before and enjoy the exquisite empathy they share. They go way back through many years and myriad venues across New York City but especially Harlem where St. John grew up. In fact, the group Higgins leads every Friday night is called the Sugar Hill Quartet after the especially musically fertile section of Harlem between 145th and 155th from Amsterdam to Edgecombe. He blows horns with effortless fluidity and brings a lifetime of experience immersed in jazz and playing with other heavies.
Neither St. John’s brunch sets at 11:30a, 1p, & 2:30p on Sundays nor Higgins’ ‘Round Midnight’ sessions that begin Fridays at 11:45p have a music charge. Excellent food and very respectable Bloody Marys to boot!