Arts and Entertainment

Jazz comes islandside for Valentine's Day lovers

Jazz vocalist Karen Shivers sings the standards for Valentine’s Day to the accompaniment of jazz pianist Reul Lubag at 88 Keys Piano Studio and Performance Space in Langley. - Photo courtesy of Karen Shivers
Jazz vocalist Karen Shivers sings the standards for Valentine’s Day to the accompaniment of jazz pianist Reul Lubag at 88 Keys Piano Studio and Performance Space in Langley.
— image credit: Photo courtesy of Karen Shivers

If your figure is less than Greek and if your mouth’s a little weak, don’t change a hair.

Valentine’s Day is coming.

Lovers everywhere have sat and listened to the Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart classic, “My Funny Valentine,” in jazz clubs near and far. Especially on that special day for lovers.

What better way to celebrate the most romantic day of the year than listening to some of the greatest songs ever written performed by some excellent jazz artists right in your own backyard, even while it feels like some tiny, hip New York City jazz club?

Maureen Girard and her 88 Keys Piano Studio in Langley makes it all possible.

Girard has invited award-winning jazz vocalist Karen Shivers and noted master jazz pianist Reul Lubag to perform a house concert at her studio and performance space on Valentine’s Day at 7 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 14. The studio is at 5024 Saratoga Road in Langley.

Shivers has a powerful and rich voice and a wide-vocal range which has been compared to the legendary female vocalists of the past such as Carmen McRae, Sarah Vaughn and Ella Fitzgerald.

Once called a singer with an “honest” voice, Shivers traveled to Japan to sing after winning the Seattle-Kobe Female Jazz Vocalist audition. That win set her on the path to a solid career on the jazz circuit.

Now Shivers commands her own audience as well as being in demand as an opening act for a long list of jazz greats such as Dianne Reeves and for Ernestine Anderson where she sings often at Jazz Alley in Seattle.

Her newest CD, “Precious Love,” was released in 2005 on the Ponyboy Record label. The CD was listed as one of the best new jazz CD releases in 2005 by KPLU 88.5 radio host Jim Wilke.

Sitting at the piano for Shivers will be a legend in his own right.

A veteran jazz pianist with a distinguished career, Reul Lubag has played with the Glenn Miller Orchestra, Jimmy Dorsey Orchestra, Terry Gibbs, Dizzy Gillespie, Bobby Shew, the Cab Calloway Orchestra, the Mills Brothers, Barbara McNair and long list of other legends of jazz. Lubag is also an educator and is currently on the faculty at Seattle Pacific University.

A jazz pianist and singer herself, Girard knows who’s who in the jazz world and chooses carefully for these concerts in such an intimate setting.

She said Valentine’s Day is an especially perfect day to hear jazz.

“Both artists are well-versed in jazz standards,” Girard said.

“Songs such as ‘My Funny Valentine’ and ‘My Romance’ are perfect to embody and to celebrate Valentine’s Day making it a very personal, moving and fun experience,” she added.

Previous house concerts at 88 Keys Studio have been particularly special, Girard said.

“The studio has the look and feel of a small night club,” she said.

“The music sweeps people up in the moment. It feels like you could be in New York City, in the Village...but you’re here in Langley.”

The concert begins at 7 p.m. Doors open at 6:30. The concert will have two 50-minute sets of music with a 15-minute intermission. Audience members will have an opportunity to meet the artists and to purchase CDs. Parking is available on site and refreshments will be provided.

Reservations cost $25 and can be made by calling Girard at 221-0362 or by visiting her Web site; Click here.

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