George Spicka Trio at Bertha’s ~ October 10, 2010
By Li z Fixsen ~
There was certainly plenty else going on that afternoon – The Ravens were playing the Denver Broncs at the M&T Stadium, and the Second Sunday Antiques and Collectibles Flea Market was in full swing in Fells Point. The first Baltimore Chamber Jazz Society concert was to happen at the Baltimore Museum of Art at 5pm.
But it turned out that the upper-level room in Bertha’s was a good place to be that afternoon, with a delightful two hours of music by George Spicka on piano, with Phil Ravita on bass and Charlene Cochran on vocals. George played a collection of his own originals plus compositions from the Baltimore Real Book, which is one of his missions – to promote the original music by Baltimore-area jazz composers.
Of course George and Phil are well known in our town for their instrumental mastery, but it was a treat to hear Charlene Cochran for the first time, and I enjoyed the shadows and sunlight of her silky vocals and the easy sophistication of her styling. Several of the songs she sang were Spicka originals with unusual melodies that not every jazz singer could carry off as confidently as Charlene did.
The last time I was in the upstairs room at Bertha’s was years ago, for a Josh David-Tim Miller concert. I remember the room as being rather dark and musty, with hard folding metal chairs. But now the room is light and airy, with attractive light pine tables and chairs. Sunlight streams in the second-story windows onto the white brick walls festooned with a spruce-and-ivy garland. Guessing from the wood floor, the large mirrors mounted on one wall, and the waist-level wood railing running along two other walls, the room might once have been a ballet studio. A large gold-colored plaster cherub wielding a violin and bow hangs on the wall above the piano, as if to bless the musical proceedings.
The $10 admission included not only the delectable music but also a help-yourself-buffet of white and red wine and a bowl of Bertha’s famous mussels with butter sauce. Although the audience was not large, they were very appreciative, and no one seemed to be too worried about not watching the Ravens trounce the Broncos. The day (10-10-10) was a real “10” for both jazz fans AND football fans.