Ava Logan

Skokie Theater, Skokie, IL

Ava Logan

Story & photos by James Walker, Jr., Copyright 2010

Chicago jazz vocalist Ava Logan's "Girls Night Out!" at the Skokie Theater on December 18th was a daring endeavor to celebrate the music of Diana Ross, Natalie Cole, Barbara Streisand, Diana Krall, Roberta Flack and Whitney Houston. What a task to crossover between R&B and show tunes. It wasn't easy but for the most part, Ava was able to successfully accomplish this feat.

Staged in the intimate setting of this former movie theater, Ava was accompanied by bassist Matt Young, saxophonist Jarred Harris, drummer Charles "Rick" Heath and Los Angles keyboardist/musical director Stuart Elster. One couldn't ask for a group finer musicians as these gentlemen were on point throughout this two set performance.

She opened the first set with a couple of Diana Ross's selections, "Aint No Mountain High Enough," and "Baby Love." The first selection was done as she entered the theater from the rear eloquently dressed in a long black dress accentuated with a long white feathered boa. Ava's such a classy lady and always dresses to impress.

Barbara Streisand's "Evergreen" and "Some Other Time" was next on the agenda, with Elster featured on the latter number. Ava appeared to be more comfortable with these standards as opposed to the R&B selections. That's natural for she rarely include such numbers during most of her performances.

She quickly demonstrated her versatility with "I Wish You Love," as it was primarily done in French. Again Elster was showcased and gave the Chicago audience a glimpse into why he's in such demand on the West Coast as a pianist to many of the "stars."

Ava's most challenging moment occurred as she ventured into the Whitney Houston songbook. Not too many artists even attempt to cover Whitney's "Saving All My Love For You," yet Ava did a fine job with this number that was well received by the audience. Also, Jarred Harris's soft sax could be easily discerned in the background.

The first set was concluded with Burt Bachrach's "The Look of Love" (as performed by Diana Krall) and "Love Being Here With You." Again, Elster and Harris complemented Ava with outstanding extended solos.

Ava opened the second set with "'Deed I Do" by highlighting all band members. She followed up with "The Way We Were" and Natalie Cole's "Inseparable" before showcasing "So Many Stars" from her So Many Stars CD and "Peel Me A Grape." The latter is a song that Ava often performs and is usually a favorite of the ladies in the audience. She does this song in such a sensuous and playful manner that even the men appear to appreciate it.

Roberta Flack's "The First Time I Saw Your Face" was arguably Ava's best R&B selection. She sang this song with conviction while never stretching outside of her range. This focus was also evident on the finale, Whitney's "I Will Always Love You."

As an encore, Ava featured drummer Charles Heath on "Day In, Day Out," and this was an outstanding performance by Ms. Logan. In retrospect, this listener sincerely believes that despite her heartfelt approach and success at singing the R&B numbers, her skills are more suited for jazz and show tunes. She's more familiar with that genre and is as skillful singing jazz numbers as the best of Chicago's lady vocalists.

Stuart Elster

Jarred Harris

Matt Young

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