Story and Photos by James Walker
Thursday night at the Fifty Yard Line, at 69 East 75th Street is special. Finger-tapping, foot-stomping jazz can be seen/heard at it's best. On Thursday, Dec. 7th was no exception, as vocalist extraordinaire Julia Huff and her quartet had the place rocking.
For those not familiar with Ms. Huff, you need to check her out. On this night, before a small, but very appreciative crowd, Julia was in rare form. Her vocal style and range remind s one of Chicago's premier jazz vocalist - Dee Alexander. What a compliment, for Dee is acknowledged as the hardest working and, arguably, finest jazz singer in Chicago. Getting back to Julia, her grace, stage presence, and rapport with the audience is remarkable. her cover of "At Last" had everyone on their feet demanding more. This is a song that has been done by many, but tonight, it belonged to the lovely Julia Huff. Her rendition of the late great Oscar Brown Jr.'s arrangement of "Afro Blue" demonstrated her versatility and range of this classic jazz tune.
A true test of a performer's confidence and ability is the capability taking requests from the audience and performing them with perfection. Julia did this all night long, without missing a beat.
Julia wasn't alone on the stage tonight. She was accompanied by a groyup of exceptional sidemen: Joe Burt on piano, Charles "Rick" Heath on drums, and Junius Paul on bass. All are special talents - with Burt and heath almost always performing with Julia. Paul is a phenomenal young bassist who often can be seen around town performing with the great Chicago trumpeter - Corey Wilkes. Heath is a unique drummer who often fronts his own band around town, and is full of energy. His drum solos are fun to watch and never are out of rhthym wioth the melody.
Throughout the evening, one could see glimpses of their individual brilliance, but this evening, without a doubt, belonged to Ms. Huff. Julia is so versatile, and is "at home" if she is singing a Braodway showstopper, or a "down home" blues tune at a Juke Joint. Don't just take my word for it, check Julia out at your earliest convenience. For future engagments check out Julia at her website. You won't regret it.