Cheltenham Jazz Concert Series Closes Out Tomorrow Night with Vocalist Miss Justine

Vocalist Justine Keeys

Closing out the season’s Jazz Bridge Neighborhood Concerts Series at the Cheltenham Art Center tomorrow night will be vocalist Miss Justine, appearing along with pianist Tom Lawton, guitarist Gerald “Twig” Smith and bassist Lee Smith.

(Miss) Justine Keeys recorded two highly regarded CD’s in the past decade – Tasty and The Many Moods of Miss Justine – and she has been a mainstay on the Philadelphia jazz scene for many years. She has worked with some of the towering figures of the genre, including Shirley Scott, Ray Charles, Keter Betts, Al Grey, Butch Ballard, Bootsie Barnes, Don Patterson, Billy Eckstine, Kenny Barron, McCoy Tyner, Lionel Hampton, Johnny Hartman and her musical mentor for over fifteen years, the late pianist Gerald Price.

Her work with current accompanist Tom Lawton was acclaimed by Jazz Review: “Tom Lawton’s piano expertly follows Keeys as she takes her time in interpreting the song with the familiar sense of lushness and leisure and her own sense of knowing. . . Indeed, Keeys’ voice is one of the classic song stylist, full of wisdom that seeps through the words as she in effect seems to share details about her life, rather than just running through lyrics.”

The Philadelphia Inquirer said, “Miss Justine treats great songs with velvet gloves, dispenses a little love advice, and handles ditties by writers from Jerome Kern to Stevie Wonder in a regal way…fine singing.”
Cadence Magazine lauded her: “Miss Justine has . . . elements of Ella Fitzgerald’s swing and Sarah Vaughan’s melismatic sweep and Billie Holiday’s emotional edge.”

As Cheltenham area jazz lovers know by now, this is no ordinary concert series. Keeping to tradition, there will be a potluck buffet to celebrate another great season of music and memories. Concert-goers are encouraged to bring a dish, but, says Jazz Bridge’s Suzanne Cloud, “if you can’t cook, just bring yourself!”

The Art Center, at 439 Ashbourne Rd, Cheltenham, is an intimate musical venue that serves artists and audiences well. The show is set for 7:30 to 9 p.m. with tickets priced at $10 ($5 for students); no advance sales. A short intermission opens up the floor for questions from the audience, which can be a highlight in itself. There are even some free refreshments and a raffle (included in the ticket price) for some great CDs. Concerts are hosted by Cheltenham pianist Dave Posmontier. For more information, call 215-517-8337

The series sponsor is Jazz Bridge, a federally tax-exempt nonprofit service organization that assists local jazz and blues musicians in crisis. The Cheltenham concert series is partially supported by a grant from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts and the Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance.