Julia Huff
Tribute to Phyllis Hyman

Jazz Showcase, Chicago, IL
February 9, 2011

Julia Huff
Julia Huff

Story and Photos by James Walker, Jr., Copyright 2011

The drawing of power of Chicago vocalist Julia Huff was quite evident on February 9th as she accomplished a task that very few have able to hurdle by filling the Jazz Showcase to capacity on one of Chicago's coldest nights as temperature hovered around zero.

Julia was performing the music of Phyllis Hyman at promoter John Moultrie's latest venture for "Jazz Oasis" and the "standing room only" anxiously awaited this Diva's interpretation of Phyllis's songbook. Backed by a veteran band consisting of saxophonist Audley Reid, drummer Malcolm Banks, keyboardist Todd Lundy, bassist Marvin Little and musical directer guitarist Keith Henderson, this gig got off to a "rocky" start.

Splendidly attired in the mode of the fashionable Phyllis, the lovely Julia Huff took the stage singing "Loving You Losing You." Unfortunately, she immediately experienced technical problems with the sound system that was barely audible even to those seated in the front row. In addition, this "A" band didn't seem to be in sync with Julia on the first few numbers. Being the consummate professional that she is, Julia didn't appear to be flustered as she weathered through this stage before gaining the attention of the audience while belting out " Under Your Spell." From that point on, Julia and the band recaptured that groove that's needed between band and vocalist as she took the audience on a journey that included most of the music that made Hyman one of the most successful vocalist of the 80s.

Highlights included her rendition of "Friends" that showcased the varied skills of both guitarist Henderson (former musical director for the Emotions) and saxophonist Reid. These two really know how to augment a beautiful song with their sensuous instruments.

Other songs performed on this set included "You Know How To Love Me," "Gonna Make Changes" "Here" and "Meet Me On The Moon." It was on the latter number that Julia truly demonstrated her ability to capture the essence of a song with emotion and style. She's an entertainer and knows how to effectively work an audience. Be it jazz, blues, or R&B, Julia Huff can hold it down with the best.

Julia described this evening as a sample of her "Phyllis" tribute and promises an extravaganza when she honors Phyllis on Mother's Day weekend at the DuSable Museum with a show that includes dinner on Mother's Day, May 8th. This promises to be a special weekend. Contact Julia at astarisbornn@sbcglobal.net for details.

Audley Reid

Keith Henderson

Todd Lundy

Marvin Little

Julia Huff and John Moultrie

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