Last Friday, I went to a tribute to jazz pianist Joe Sample. Underneath dim lights, I sat among a crowd of about 200 lovers of all things soulful. While melodies filled every inch of the room, we were catered to by an attentive wait staff and sipped on fruity, mouth-puckering drinks. Suddenly, the emcee stepped onto stage and prompted the audience to bow their heads as he started the night with prayer. Oh yeah, I had almost forgotten that I was in a CHURCH!!!

That’s rimg_8251ight, Cafe Nights is a quarterly jazz event at Guiding Light Church in Irondale. For $35 a head, attendees get a full night of live jazz and a three-course meal. (I guess it helps when the pastor, the Rev. Jim Lowe, is a jazz enthusiast and the son of the late great musician and jazz historian J. L. Lowe!)

A 6 p.m. reception kicked off the night and featured a visual arts display by Fred Smith. Guests nibbled on hearty finger food of spiced sausage, egg rolls, spanakopita and sipped on a sparkling grape non-alcoholic beverage from plastic flutes. The crowd then filed into a dark auditorium bedecked with mood lights and a configuration of intimate round tables assigned to the totally sold out crowd.

The band was electric, performing many of Sample’s hits such as “Street Life,” “Fever,” “Eye of the Hurricane” and many others. The ensemble included composer and keyboardist Phil Davis, bassist Sean Michael Ray, J-Rod Sullivan on drums, guitarist Derek Scott and vocalist Dara Carter.

Dinner featured a light summer salad topped with almonds, blueberries, and cheeses. Then, guests had a choice of either Greek chicken with wild rice or stuffed flounder with a medley of vegetables. I recommend the flounder.)  The GLC punch is highly recommended. This concoction of lemonade and a blend of fruit juices is delicious. Dessert included choice of Lemon Meringue pie or Chocolate Lovin’ Spoon Cake.

The next event is Friday, December 4 featuring Venus. I will probably see you there.

For more information, go to http://www.glcbookstore.com/index.php?id_product=219882&controller=product.

Final thoughts: This is a great date night option. If you like to sip on a hard drink, however, be aware that there is no alcohol served. There are, however, several offerings of yummy gourmet coffees.

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