Joplin's Java & Ragtime Cafe, Waukegan, IL
March 12, 2010
Story and photos by Brad Walseth, Copyright 2010
L.A.-based pianist and singer appeared recently at Waukegan's Joplin Java & Ragtime Cafe - quite possibly the only coffee bar in the country featuring a pair of grand pianos worth a half a million dollars. Backed by local first-call bassist Dennis Carroll, Schell nimbly fingered the $200,000 Studer Grand piano, while performing a series of standards and original numbers for an appreciative crowd at this north suburban gem.
Starting off with Jerome Kerns' "Nobody Else But Me," Schell impressed immediately with her fleet and self assured finger work - serving notice that she is much more than a pretty face. Launching into Jobim's "Once I Loved," (covered on her For All We Know CD - see our review here) Schell showed that she is also a singer with considerable charm and her own personal delivery. Bassist Carroll provided superb support for the singer and some wonderfully melodic solos - even singing along at times.
Meanwhile, the hits kept coming with "You the Night and Music" and the title track from her first CD - "Dream Away," "I've Never Been in Love Before" and "Monk's Dream." Throughout these blissfully romantic numbers, Schell exhibited a high level of musicianship and sensitivity. You can see why she is a favorite on the L.A. straight ahead scene.
The second set started off with one of her signature pieces - the great Jimmy Van Heusen /Johnny Mercer number - "I Thought About You" - which Schell has made her own with her droll vocal delivery and playful piano work. She followed that with a stellar composition from her new album (After the Rain - see our review here) entitled "Truth's Surrender." This lovely piece was a true highlight and generated rousing applause from the crowd. Continuing with a jaunty version of "How Deep is the Ocean," this reviewer had to slip out, before Schell and Carroll finished their final set, but I am sure the audience appreciated hearing these talented artists in a comfortable and intimate setting.
Check out other recent concerts reviews and photos
Return to jazzchicago home