Betty Bryant may have left Kansas City 40 years ago, but that city's music still flows through her veins.
"There's a Kansas City feel to what I play," said Bryant, a pianist and singer. "I still have a certain amount of the blues that I learned from Jay McShann (the legendary Kansas City-based pianist-singer-bandleader with whom she often sang when she was first getting into show business). It shows through when I'm playing.
"My blues feeling is not hard line--I'll never be on stage with B.B. King, but the feeling is there and people know it."
Bryant appears tonight at Chadney's in Burbank with one of her favorite bassists, Richard Simon. Also on the bill is trumpeter-singer-comedian Jack Sheldon.
The performances of Bryant and Sheldon are part of the KLON-FM (88.1) Jazz Caravan, twice-yearly fund-raising events that draw close to 2,000 avid jazz fans. The money helps support the nonprofit jazz station. During the event, Caravan members pay $15 each and are invited to attend any of 15 Los Angeles area clubs without further cover charge. Shuttle bus service between clubs is provided.
The San Fernando Valley clubs taking part are the Baked Potato in North Hollywood, with Don Randi and Quest; Jax and Deja Vu in Glendale, hosting Cecilia Coleman and Sherman Ferguson respectively; and B.B. King's Blue's Club in Universal City, with Arthur Adams. Tickets for the Caravan can be purchased at any participating club. For information, call KLON at (310) 985-1686. The public isn't required to join the Caravan to attend any of the clubs, and at Chadney's, the room's usual no-cover, no-minimum policy is in effect.
Chadney's is usually a lively room, and will be more so tonight. And to keep the crowd enthused, Bryant plans to focus on up-tempo and blues during her sets. She also plans to through in a slow number now and then, as she did with considerable success at her last show a month ago.
"Right in the middle of the night, I sang the slow ballad, 'When the World Was Young,' and you could hear a pin drop. In Chadney's!" she exclaimed. "It was so wonderful that people actually listened."
Bryant, who works most other Thursdays at Bob Burn's restaurant in Woodland Hills, knows she's in good hands with Simon as her rhythm and harmony partner. "We've played a lot during the past four years," she said. "He's an incredible listener. I can play anything, all the wrong chord changes and he's there with me. He's very supportive."
Betty Bryant will appear with Richard Simon tonight, 8 p.m.-1:30 a.m., at Chadney's, 3000 W. Olive St., Burbank. No cover, no minimum. (818) 843-5333. She also plays most Thursdays, 7-11 p.m., at Bob Burn's, 21821 Oxnard St., Woodland Hills. No cover, no minimum. (818) 883-2145.
High Standards: Chris Taylor made it clear right away: He is not a blues singer, not a jazz singer. "I sing pop," he said in a barrel-deep, mellifluous voice. And by pop , he means the classic standards--the cream of the crop of Broadway show tunes from the '30s, '40s and '50s.
Taylor, who appears tonight at Monteleone's West, stocks his repertoire with such choice selections as "The Lady is a Tramp," "You Go To My Head," "Just One of Those Things" and "My Funny Valentine."
"These are beautiful songs and they're fun to sing," he said, speaking from his home in Van Nuys. "In an era of tuneless rap, it is wonderful to get back to the great songs."
Ten years ago, Taylor, who primarily makes his living as a commercial artist and doing voice-overs, started to sing professionally. He says he can't stop now. "I learned by listening to, and singing along with, Barbra Streisand records. Singing brings me such joy, and that's what I try to give to the audience."
Chris Taylor sings tonight, 7 p.m.-midnight, at Monteleone's West, 19337 Ventura Blvd., Tarzana. No cover; without dinner, $9.95 food/drink minimum. FYI: (818) 996-0662.