Story and Photos by James Walker, Jr.
During the most recent edition of "Music Monday" at ETA's Creative Arts Foundation on South Chicago Avenue, Dr. Ava Logan stopped in for a "house call." No, Dr. Logan wasn't there to practice medicine (she's actually a veterinarian by trade) but she certainly was "operating" at a high level as she was performing "surgery" on the American songbook with precision. Ava, a Washington D.C. native has been entertaining appreciative Chicago area audiences for the past decade as a actress and singer, developing as fan base with each stop on her journey.She's portrayed the great Ella Fitzgerald and Nancy Wilson at the Black Ensemble Theater in recent years in addition to her busy club date and private engagement schedule.
Music Mondays are hosted by WVON's radio personality Cliff Kelly and ETA's Sue Conway. As usual, the witty Kelly starts the program off with a few entertaining stories before introducing the ace house band comprised of Mike Logan on the keyboard, Chuck Webb on bass and Chris Miskel holding down the beat on the drums. They started the music with a beautiful rendition of Horace Sliver's classic "Song for My Father". While each had nice extended solos on this number, it was bassist Webb distinguishing himself early on with his solo on the electric bass.
Before Dr. Logan began "operating", as per standard procedure at ETA, Sue Conway warmed up the crowd with "Sing a Song".Sue knows how to get a crowd involved and engaged the audience in a "sing a long". Sue also opened the 2nd set with the Beatle's "Something." Mike Logan also demonstrated some fine ivory tickling on this number.
Ava, elagantly attired ,started this set with standard "Blues in the Night." She's such a natural singing the standards and classics and personifies class and style in her smooth delivery. This was followed by "Taking A Chance on Love" and she was again beautifully complemented by keyboardist Mike Logan.
As is the case with many vocalist, Ava is a story teller and shared her love of travel as she serenaded the audience while singing Nancy Wilson's classic "I Wish You Love" , in both French and English. One did not need to understand French in order to appreciate the beauty of this song as sung by a classy woman. Brenda Russell's "Get Me There If You Can"( popularized by Oleta Adams), was next. By now , she has this attentive crowd "eating out of her hand". This environment of an intimate club like setting is perfect for the style and delivery of this seasoned veteran.
Her affinity for Nancy Wilson is obvious as she again paid homage to this great singer with her version of "How Glad I Am". The first set was brought to closure with "Love Being Here With You". Ava gave the band an opportunity to stretch on this number with Chuck Webb picking up his upright for some nice deep bass tones. Logan continues to impress with his keyboarding on this tune as was the case throughout the evening.
The band opened the 2nd set with Miles' classic "All Blues." Bassist Webb is in a "zone" and is as animated on the number as this writer as ever seen him. Also, drummer Miskel distinguishes himself with a highlight drum solo. Miskel was unfamiliar to this viewer and surely acquired a few new fans with his thunderous beating on the drum kit.
Ava, even more fashionably dressed for the 2nd set began with "Day In Day Out." This was followed by one of Duke Ellington's lesser known tunes, "I Know a Song." As usual ,Ava interacts appropriately with the band allowing them occasions to complement her singing with extended solos that showcases their talent. Logan took advantage of another such opportunity on Dinah Washington's "You Don't Know What Love Is." He brings solos to life with fleet fingers as Ava sings this song with affect and conviction. What a joy to just sit back and watch these two make beautiful music.
This wonderful evening of "cabaret" style music came to an end with Ella's "Night and Day" and "That's All". This writer has witnessed other vocalists with stronger voices but not too many with her style and class and great delivery that captures the imagination and attention of the audience.She's an entertainer and easily convinces the audience that she surely is enjoying every moment on stage bringing joy to all present. As appropriately stated by Cliff Kelly, "Ava Logan had many supporters at ETA, and now she has new friends."
Ava has a CD debuting in a few weeks that's produced by composer, producer, and guitarist Henry Johnson.For details about future engagements and her upcoming CD, refer to her website at: www.avalogan.com.
Music Mondays occur the 2nd Monday of the month with "Main Event" featuring guitarist Buddy Fambro, taking the stage on May 12th. ETA is located at 7558 S.South Chicago Ave. in Chicago. Please refer to their website at: www.etacreativearts.org for programming details.