Danny Long Trio 

My favorite memory of Danny Long: he's in the middle of a typically smart set of piano jazz and classic vocal tunes when some guy walks in, an overdressed bimbo on each arm, and the three of them sit right down front and begin to talk like the musicians don't exist, like that's a hi-fi system onstage. Danny Long finishes the tune, thanks the crowd, and then smilingly notes how "the real music lovers always sit right in front"--a comment that satisfies everyone in the house except the three blabbermouths, who haven't stopped talking long enough to hear it anyway. I don't know if that makes Long the coolest performer around, but it does prove he's no glad-handing show-tune schlockmeister. His singing style is matter-of-fact and understated, his trenchant humor remains close at hand, the tunes he picks are hipper than you'd expect, and he brings invention and authority to his piano work. You're dating yourself if you remember Long, currently living in Arizona, from when he was a fixture of the Rush Street lounge scene--you date yourself by remembering Rush Street even had a lounge scene--but he wasn't so old then, he's not too old now, and he's only got three more days in town. Tonight and Sunday, George's, 230 W. Kinzie; 644-2290. Monday, Pops for Champagne, 2934 N. Sheffield; 472-1000.

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