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'Soul Train' memories; soulful keys at SOB's; Lovelace celebration

Ron Scott | 2/8/2012, 6:16 p.m.

Before "Soul Train" appeared on the scene, the first Black dance show was "Jocko" Henderson's "Rocket Ship Show" on Channel 13 in New York from 1958-1959. Unfortunately, he wasn't on long enough to give Dick Clark's "American Bandstand" a run for its money, but a lack of sponsorship at that time may have been its downfall. "Bandstand" aired in 1957 and ran through 1987, but it proved to be no competition for "Soul Train."

Fortunately, with YouTube, we can always see "Soul Train" and check its hip, fearless leader Cornelius in action. His closing became a national hip quote: "And you can bet your last money it's all gonna be a stone gas, honey! And as always in parting, we wish you love, peace and soul!"

Lonnie Liston Smith doesn't perform in Gotham often enough, so this will be a very rare appearance for the keyboardist-composer whose career spans over 40 years. On Feb. 9 (tonight), he will perform at the eclectic club SOB's, 204 Varick St. in the South Village. When Smith's name is mentioned, ears perk up. He has influenced generations of young players, who have acknowledged his rhythmic swing, harmonic acumen and composing skills.

Smith's compositions for Pharaoh's CDs "Upper Egypt, Karma," "The Creator Has a Master Plan," "Summum, Bukmun, Umyun" and "Jewels of Thought" were essential to the band's sound. Smith also recorded with Argentinean saxophonist Gato Barbieri and recorded two albums with Miles Davis, "On the Corner" and "Big Fun" (Columbia Records). Smith's own recordings received rave reviews, particularly "Expansions."

He will be appearing with two other keyboardists, including Brian Jackson, a multi-instrumentalist, singer and composer best known for his collaborations with Gil Scott-Heron in the 1970s. Jackson has worked with Will Downing, Stevie Wonder and Earth, Wind & Fire, as well as recorded his own solo albums.

The other keyboardist will be Mark Adams. Over the years, Adams has worked with Ron Carter, Bobbie Humphrey, Dave Valentine and Ronnie Laws. He has recorded three CDs under his name. Adams refers to his music as "the beginning of the new movement of soul jazz." This will be a soulful night of keys; three incredible pianists going from jazz to funk and all around. For more information, call (212) 243-4940.

Singers Connection Open Mic & Jam will be presenting a special tribute to the late Jimmy Lovelace, the renowned jazz drummer, on Friday, Feb. 10, 8:30-11 p.m., at University of the Streets, 130 E. 7th St. on Avenue A.

Lovelace has recorded with such greats as Wes Montgomery, Tony Scott and George Benson. He has influenced generations of young musicians.

Singer Okaru Lovelace, who hosts the Open Mic & Jam every Friday, thoughtfully started the weekly series to recognize Jimmy Lovelace's strong relationship with Muhammad Salahuddeen, the founder of the theater.

At the theater, Lovelace and many musicians played regularly and conversed with Salahuddeen about the music they loved into the wee hours. After their death, she wanted to keep their spirits alive with live jazz music in the theater.

Everyone is welcome to come and sing, play, perform spoken word or just enjoy and celebrate Lovelace's life-his birthday was earlier this month. The house band for this special night will include musicians associated with Lovelace.

There is no cover charge for singers, but they will be charged $5 per song. There is a $5 admission.