Chicago was Mike Smith's halfway point on a path to New York City. He's still only halfway there. His Texan wife liked Chicago, the city where Smith grew up, and asked to stay. The saxophone player couldn't say no, and when he was 24 years old he started playing at Andy's Jazz Club. Since then more than 30 years have passed, his loyalty to the city growing with the years. He always came back to Chicago after tours with Frank Sinatra and other artists, and said it's a loyal Wednesday-night-at-Andy's audience that challenges him to continue to learn new material and improve what he calls his "feel good music." During his earlier years, Smith learned a few things from Sinatra about how to engage an audience, he said. "Before I start, I tell them who wrote it," Smith said. "That's something I learned from Sinatra; he was a master of that." Owner of Andy's, Scott Chisholm, said he has people from outside Chicago, including Europe, call him before their trips to the city to make sure Smith will be performing. And if Smith needs a week off? It's a problem, Chisholm said. "Mike was always a very, very aggressive player on stage," Chisholm said. "He always played on the edge and kept people coming."
Copyright © 2018, Los Angeles Times