CULTURE

Fresh jazz blast from the past

Call it a new blast from the past. It’s Christmas time at the Half Note Jazz Club with good old jazz standards. Accompanied by her band, the Red Hot Skillet Lickers band, Lavay Smith is currently at the Mets jazz house with shows running to December 28. Smith is a young woman who revives jazz tunes hailing from the 1940s and the 1950s. She has a gift for combining «Backwater Blues» a la Dinah Washington with Billie Holiday’s version of «What a Little Moonlight Can Do» and Ella Fitzgerald’s «Ev’ry Time We Say Goodbye.» In other words, swing, ballads and rhythm’n’blues mix with the artist’s dynamic and powerful presence. She has earned kudos from jazz publications such as landmark Down Beat, recorded two albums, «One Hour Mama» and «Everybody’s Talkin’ Bout Miss Thing!» – both released by Fat Note Records – and has managed to stir up a good deal of interest on this side of the Atlantic. Growing up in Southern California and the Philippines, Smith fell in love with great jazz divas from early on – among her idols were singers such as Bessie Smith. She subsequently entered the stage arena at a young age and was even awarded an award for Sexiest Woman by Los Angeles Magazine. Celebrities including jazz legend Johnny Otis, Dan Aykroyd and Bill Clinton have publicly praised Smith for her singing and, no doubt, her stage presence. Maintaining her home base in San Francisco, Smith travels to numerous festivals accompanied by the Red Hot Skillet Lickers. Together they have performed at Lincoln Center, the Montreal Jazz Festival, the Hollywood Bowl and the Portland Waterfront Blues Festival, among other venues. For those of you with a soft spot for classical jazz and especially swing, don’t stray from the Half Note. Following Smith, the stage will be taken over by Mitch Woods and the Big Easy Boogie, with performances running from December 29 to January 8. On the menu are jump blues and boogie woogie along the lines of Louis Jordan as well as early-stage rock’n’roll in Fats Domino style. All this from a pianist and singer who has worked alongside the great Archie Shepp. Half Note Jazz Club, 17 Trivonianou, Mets, tel 210.921.3310. For more information and online reservations visit www.halfnote.gr.