Reopening briefly after a four-week hiatus, Club Date is a rich music/theater offering by the Free Street Theater that fuses live jazz with oral history. A hit with audiences who prize it both as living history and solid entertainment, it features a quintet of veteran jazz musicians headed by singer Toni Mathis who not only play vintage standards by, among other, Duke Ellington, Charlie Parker, and Dizzy Gillespie, but also reminisce about the glory days of Chicago jazz. According to director David Schein, "There's a lot of interest in this town about the scene that was, as told by the folks who were there and who are making music now." The show re-creates the golden period of the late 40s and early 50s, when flourishing clubs all over the south side attracted blacks and whites alike. "The gangsters owned the clubs, the black managers ran them, and everyone, black and white, came there without fear, for pure pleasure," says Schein. "Today there's a real nostalgia for that kind of open scene, when there wasn't a cultural barrier between the north and south sides." Spices Jazz Bar, February 28 through March 14 (812 N. Franklin, 664-6222). Fridays and Saturdays, 8 PM. $12.50.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Dan Rest.

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