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The Jazz Showcase in Chicago

When I stop in a city for a day or two for work, I like to find a good place to relax.  I’ll stop in somewhere, enjoy a drink, and maybe a show.  When I went to Chicago, I looked into some jazz.

Something to know about me.  I play the piano and love piano led songs across a range of genres.  So I was ecstatic to see Cedar Walton was playing at the Jazz Showcase.


This is Cedar Walton in 1976, 36 years ago.  He had fast fingers.  (By the way, Blue Monk is one of my favorites too :D)

The Jazz Showcase stage in Chicago, Il.I had never been to the Jazz Showcase before.  The cover that night, $20, was pricy but fair.

I ordered my go-to cocktail, a cosmo.  (Before I’m scolded for not having gin, I’m sadly allergic! :P)  It was made well.  Not too sweet and it was sour enough.

I got there about a half-hour before the set was supposed to start, and it was empty other than a gentleman off to the side.  I was too shy to take the table right by the piano, even though I love watching pianist’s fingers.  I still sat fairly close.

The place filled in with a lot of couples, but also a fair amount of people there solo to enjoy the music.

After a little, Cedar Walton slowly walked to the stage.  He paced himself as he walked across the front of that stage, and slowly walked up the steps.   I already had told myself that he wouldn’t be at the same level as he once was.  After all, the videos I saw of him were when he was in his 40s and he is now in his 70s!

He slowly dropped himself to his seat and said a few words to the audience.  He just had a new record out, the Bouncer.  He slowly rolled out his set list and nodded at the drummer.

HOLY COW!  He was incredible.  His fingers flew all over the piano.  I was extremely excited but also sad I couldn’t share that moment with other jazz friends of mine.  Because it was just that amazing.

The Jazz  Showcase lets you stay for the second show for free.  The drinks are comparable to a cocktail in Chicago proper and don’t have the normally music club markup (mostly because of the cover, I surmise).

I recommend checking it out if it is showing an act you would like.  Check them out on YouTube if you want to go there to check out something new.  Jazz varies so much that an act labeled jazz could be completely different from the jazz you’ve experienced before.

The Jazz Showcase is in the South Loop area of Chicago. If you are staying in Chicago, it is near the Renaissance Blackstone Chicago Hotel, Wyndham Blake Chicago, and the Hilton Chicago.

About Jeanne Marie Hoffman

Former bartender, still a geek. One equal part each cookies, liberty, football, music, travel, libations. Stir vigorously. +Jeanne Marie Hoffman Jeanne on Twitter

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