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Pianist Rudolph has 3 days of love in song planned

| Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2014, 6:18 p.m.
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Pianist Steven Rudolph

Pianist Steven Rudolph says he loves “being a chameleon.”

He is happy to be able to regularly change shades in three days of “A Celebration of the Great American Songbook,” Feb. 14 to 16 at the James Street Gastropub & Speakeasy on the North Side.

“Heck, I'll be playing with a different band every night,” the Harrisburg resident says, “and finishing up with the great Roger Humphries. You can't beat that.”

It will be a busy weekend of music centered around the classic songs that have been part of the steady diet for jazz players for years. Because so many of those songs deal with love and romance, James Street owner Adam Johnston decided also to make the shows a way of celebrating Valentine's Day.

The songbook/Valentine's weekend is the second of Johnston's efforts to stage a special weekend each month. The events began in January with a look at the music of bass legend Charles Mingus, and will continue in March with a weekend of music by guitarists.

Performances at 6:30 and 9 p.m. Feb. 14 will feature a trio of Rudolph, drummer Thomas Wendt and bassist Tony DePaolis supporting the singing of Maureen Budway, Carolyn Perteete, Kathy Connor and Spanky Wilson. An 11 p.m. jam will follow with the voice of Tania Grubbs.

The trio behind the singers will be joined Feb. 15 by guitarist Mark Strickland and trombonist Jeff Bush, trumpeter James Moore and saxophonist-clarinetist Paul Cosentino.

But on Feb. 16, the lineup changes more with a band led by guitarist Marty Ashby with drummer Humphries, bassist Dwayne Dolphin, Moore and Rudolph.

Rudolph is the founder and executive director of the Central PA Friends of Jazz and maintains a steady schedule of performances in Pennsylvania and surrounding states.

He says events such as this one are like jazz festivals where he will be hired to play with a number of bands during the length of the event.

While he is visiting this area, he also is playing at a jazz brunch Feb. 16 at The Mansions on Fifth, Shadyside, and doing a workshop Feb. 17 at West Virginia Wesleyan, in Buckhannon, where Moore teaches.

“It's a tour,” he says with a laugh.

Bob Karlovits is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at bkarlovits@tribweb.com or 412-320-7852.

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