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Coffee is Hot at St. Elmo’s
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Don Rouse

Something pretty special has been going on at St. Elmo’s in Del Ray. Not just for the sake of accuracy, we point out that the Not So Modern Quartet has become a misnomer when it refers to Bill Rowe’s gig at St. Elmo’s on Thursday nights.

   Over the past several months, those of us who have gone to hear the music have witnessed a reed section that includes Wally Garner, clarinet, Jimmy Hamilton, clarinet and bary, Country Thomas, bass sax, and Frank Smith, tenor. It a rare treat to hear these folks play together (and I do mean together) after all these years when they were doing their separate thing, and I am grateful to Bill for assembling this band for all of us to hear. Not only that, but rounding out the group he has Joe Shepherd, trumpet, Herb Greenlee, piano, Bill Whelan, bass, Chip Kelly and Charlie LaBarbara, guitars, Bill on drums, Doug Powell, trombone, and Susan Woodruff, who drops by to do nice vocals. Herb’s rock solid piano (PRJCers will recall his ragtime and stride piano performances) is the foundation and the glue for the ensembles. Joe Shepherd, it is slowly dawning on me, is a collector of nice tunes, which he renders with great taste and savvy.

   In this friendly, informal atmosphere, these musicians fit together like a hand fits a glove. Because of the informal nature both of the place and the gig, it is not possible to predict that the full compliment will be in place every session, but it is a little gift from the gods when it is, and still steaming even when only part of the gang shows up. -Ed.
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