Jazz for the jazz illiterate

By Marissa DiPilla

I’ve never liked jazz. I don’t like the sound of a saxophone. I don’t like the less-than-traditional chords. I don’t even like scat. In fact, I say that my musical tastes include everything, but jazz is by far the least represented in that list. Needless to say, I was less than thrilled when I found out I would have to see a live jazz performance for my Jazz History class in order to write a critique (sorry, Dr. O!).

Not at all excited, I searched Google for jazz cafés and clubs in Philadelphia, which is 20 minutes away from my house. I clicked on the first one to pop up – Chris’ Jazz Café on Sansom in Center City. I looked through the calendar of events and saw a Latin jazz show coming up. “Hmm, I like Latin music,” I thought. “That’s gotta be more bearable than regular jazz!” So I bought two tickets, so my boyfriend and I could at least make a night of it.

The night finally came, and we got to the small, dimly-lit restaurant about 20 minutes early. We ordered our food – delicious burgers named after Dizzy Gillespie! – and enjoyed the ambience. The show hadn’t even started and it had already been an enjoyable night! Right on time, the band started up on piano, vocals, trumpet, bass, congas, bongos, snares, and many other percussion instruments. Café Con Pan – “coffee with bread” in Spanish – played fun, energetic, danceable Latin beats with some contemporary jazz improvisation on top. One couple even got up and started to salsa dance in between tables!

When the show was over a couple hours later, I was a little surprised to find that I had actually enjoyed myself! I definitely would not have gone to this place if I hadn’t have had to find a jazz show for class, but we’ve already made plans to go back. This goes to show that you should always try new things, because you might just find a new favorite thing to do!

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