Story and photos by James Walker, Jr., Copyright 2010
Close Up 2(CU2) continues to attract some of the top players of Contemporary
Jazz to this chic South Loop venue with the appearance on May 11th of Smooth
Jazz Icon Dave Koz and his top shelf band. CU2 partnered with Chicagoland
Chrysler dealers to bring this classy aggregate to Chicago.
This was the second major smooth jazz artist to grace the stage at this intimate
room within recent weeks. Sax man Eric Darius and Chicago favorite Nick Colionne
(see our review here) preceded Koz on April 30th. In addition, guitarist
Norman Norman Brown and saxophonist Jackiem Joyner made a cameo visit to the
club last Saturday following their SmoothChicago.com concert at Du Sable
Koz was accompanied by his touring band consisting of guitarist Randy Jacobs,
bassist Bill "Rubberhand Man" Sharpe, drummer Stevo Thearg, and musical
director/keyboardist Brian Simpson, who hails from nearby Gurnee.
As usual for a Koz set, little time was wasted revving up this capacity crowd
into a frenzy as they began the set with "Life In The Fast Lane." Koz, the
consummate entertainer was energetic from the outset and continued in that mode
upon completion two hours later.
This two set performance featured not only Koz, but each of his exceptional band
mates. Bill "Rubberhand Man" Sharpe opened "Silver Lining" with a bass solo that
had the crowd on its feet. This was followed by Marcus Miller's composition
entitled "The Journey." Koz was debuting this number at CU2 and it will appear
on Koz's new CD that should be available later this summer.
With this week being the first anniversary of Smooth Jazz bassist Wayman
Tisdale's death, Koz and the fellows played one of Wayman's favorites, "Throw It
Down." Simpson and Koz engaged in friendly bantering on the lively number.
This exceptional first set was concluded featuring Jacobs on "Bada Bing."
Jacobs had the crowd hysterical as he wallowed on his back during the Latin-tinged selection.
Highlights of the second set included Simpson's own composition of "Let's Get
Close." Koz and Sharp's playful interchange during "Chicago Song" and their
finale on Michael Jackson's "I'll Be There." What an exceptional evening of fun
had by all as Koz and friends left a lasting impression at Chicago's only Smooth
Jazz Club... CU2.
CU2's Frank Goss also announced their involvement with smooth jazz radio station
87.7 at this year's Chicago Jazz Fest. They will sponsor a Contemporary Jazz
Stage at Buckingham Fountain during prime time of this annual two day Grant Park
For information pertaining to future CU2 events, refer to their website at www.closeup2jazz.com.