Jazz Oasis

Rumba, Chicago, IL

Carmen Stokes
Carmen Stokes

Story and Photos by James Walker, Jr., Copyright 2010

Twenty years ago, The Jazz Oasis on west Erie was THE spot for contemporary jazz. Proprietor John Moultrie revived this experience for one night with a star studded gala at the Rumba Restaurant that featured sultry pianist/vocalist Carmen Stokes and her all-star bandmates of guitarist Phil Seed, keyboardist Tim Gant, drummer Khari Parker, percussionist Tony "Toca" Carpenter, and bassist Ron Hall. In addition, a jam session followed Carmen's two sets.

Stokes is such a dynamic performer who is truly a double threat with her ability to tickle the 88s along with her soulful tantalizing vocals Such was the case during the first set as she took control of Nancy Wilson's signature song, "Guess Who I Saw Today." She playfully turned to guitarist Seed as she eased into this classic before turning her attention to a gentlemen in the audience who instantly became part of this "act." The crowd loved it and responded with a rousing ovation.

Seed , also a vocalist, accompanied Stokes on a couple of duets, "Can We Fall in Love Again," and George Benson/Aretha Franklin's " You and I Were Meant to Be Lovers." These two worked so well together during this segment, and appeared to be on "auto pilot."

Percussionist Tony Carpenter demonstrated his skills on "A Day in the Life of a Fool." He's an exceptional percussionist who can be seen throughout the greater Chicagoland with a variety of groups. Stokes completed the first set with an original from her first CD entitled "Sexy Feeling."

The second set began with what truly was the highlight of the evening when Stokes coaxed international smooth jazz guitarist Nick Colionne to join her on "Mercy Mercy Mercy." Nattily attired , as always, in blue suit and white hat, Nick lit up the room with this spectacular "Benson-like" strumming as he unleashed his six string facility with reckless abandon. Nick is a Chicago favorite and to see these two jamming together was certainly a sight to behold.

Before this listener called it an evening, Ms.Stokes favored the overflow crowd with "Stormy Monday." Be it jazz, R&B or blues, Stokes does it all. Chicago audiences know a little about "The Blues" and this night was no exception. Nothing like a little blues at a Chicago set.

In addition to the many musicians who came out to celebrate with Jazz Oasis, also in attendance was actor Mel Davis, a Chicago native, newsman Art Norman, and Rick O'Dell from Smooth Jazz 87.7. Congratulations again to John Moultrie and perhaps he will make this a regular affair. From the attendance at Rumba and the enthusiasm within this beautiful room, it appears that Chicago is ready to support such an endeavor.

Carmen Stokes

Tony "Toca" Carpenter

Ron Hall

Carmen Stokes & Phil Seed

Ron Gant

Nic Colionne joins in the fun

Nic Colionne

Phil Seed

Khari Parker

Mel Davis

Rick O'Dell

Nick & Bernard Crump

Check out other recent concerts reviews and photos

Return to jazzchicago home