Friday, June 10, 2011

08 Jun 11

It was some enchanted evening, blogspot readers, as well as a change of music pace for SouthSide. Tonight, she alongwith her super fan and sidekick, Joe, travelled back in time where supper clubs were all the rage in the dining scene and crooners like Dean Martin or Frank Sinatra entertained dining guests. Well, that essence is still alive and well here in Chicago at Rumba Supper Club (located in the River North area) in which SouthSide highly recommends taking such a trip back into nostalgia for one evening (or two). What an incredible (and unique) experience this was for SouthSide and Joe. It's perfect if you want to have an intimate dinner for two by candlelight or a group outting on the town. The ambience and decor had a classic Casablanca theme but with a Latin flare ...the food (suggests Pork Chops Al Pastor with a spicy pineapple sauce and Buffalo Chicken Salad) was tasty with the right amount of spiciness and service was very friendly as well as prompt. And since Rumba is a supper club, there's also (free) entertainment of the Latin variety most nights each week however tonight's show was completely different for the club. It became a lively jazz club featuring a marvellous double performance by Jesse Charbonier and a 4-piece band that also included choreographed dancing by Jarrett and Nikki. Coincidentally, this performance was Jarrett's last before leaving for the bright lights of Las Vegas to appear in the Lion King production there for the next six months.

As SouthSide mentioned earlier, tonight's featured entertainment was a double set of familiar (and rarely heard) standards performed by an amazing and talented local artist, Jesse Charbonier who was accompanied by upbeat and swinging jazz music. Dressed like a dapper Don Draper, Jesse entertained the audience with such debonair and style while bringing the esteem classic works by Billie Holiday to Elvis (yes, even the King performed a somewhat standard song heard in the movie Viva Las Vegas ...and it's not the famous movie song either) and even some Bill Withers to life through his voice. It was, blogspot readers, actually the way his vocal style, so ultra cool and smoothly suave, captured the tender sentiments or romanticism - the good and bad, off the lyrics. SouthSide has heard crooner standards performed before but nothing like the way Jesse dynamically worked the stage while charming the audience with his warm personality and smile. Yep, this reviewer has fallen hopelessly in love with a crooner and his voice. And before she moves onward about his show and songs performed, she would like to take a moment or two to highlight the band behind the singer. This 4-piece band (also looking so dapper in their matching clothes) rocked the stage throughout the show with such lively enthusiasm and upbeat sound heard in their jazz music. The band perfectly captured the mood and tempo of each song thus not only assisting Jesse with his vocal arrangement and style but also spotlighting the originator's musical composition. And jazz wasn't their sole main focus during this performance, blogspot readers. They even got soulfully down and funky while performing a rarely heard Bill Withers' tune and Ray Charles' I Believe (one of two times in which Jesse had the audience to sing along amidst a lively jazz/funk sound).

The show itself encompassed favorite classics like Billie Holiday's All Of Me, God Bless the Child, Nat King Cole's L-O-V-E (Jesse had some of the audience sing along ...lyrics provided if you didn't know this famous wedding song), Chet Baker's Let's Get Lost (another rarely heard classic) and My Funny Valentine. Picking a single Jesse moment to spotlight for this review was very hard to do, blogspot readers, because each moment during this double performance owned the spotlight. Jesse wowed this reviewer when performing the haunting song, Don't Explain after letting the band take an instrumental lead first (and he was right - they do play this particular song beautifully). His voice powerfully brought the emotional sadness heard (and felt) in the lyrics to life with the trumpet acting as his "backing vocal". This artist also captured that same sentiment and more during Billie Holiday's You've Changed in which he beautifully as well dynamically ended the song with an amazing burst of falsetto vocals. Yet it wasn't just Jesse and band all night long either. The audience was treated to a video adaptation and dance interpretion (by Jarrett) during Nat King Cole's Nature Boy (the lyrics were inspired by the tale, The Little Prince). Then to kick off the second half of his performance, Jesse premiered his video, Let's Not Discuss It (SouthSide highly recommends checking out it on YouTube) and Billie Holiday's Strange Fruit done in an animated cartoon-like movie - still a powerful yet fitting message (condemning racism) even in the new millennium. Jarrett did return this time with his dancing partner, the lovely Nikki, to perform a jazzy tribute to the late great jazz dancer/choreographer Bob Fosse. SouthSide wished there was another Fosse-inspired dance tribute as well as more of Jesse singing classic tunes since it didn't truly feel like two hours had passed by. Though performing two extra songs that included his Goodbye Song, SouthSide still wanted more.

Rumba Supper Club has plans of making live jazz entertainment a weekly spot that will feature dinner and drink specials associated with the featured artist of the night for a low special price, blogspot readers. SouthSide highly recommends jazz music lovers young and old making reservations now for July 5th that's when Jesse Charbonier returns to the stage for another enchanted evening of classic and rarely heard standards. Don't pass up a unique dining/entertainment experience like this, blogspot readers.

For more information about Rumba Supper Club, visit

For more information about Jesse Charbonier, visit him at

Until next time, support your local scene,

1 comment:

  1. Hey Southside,

    What ambiance this place had and Jessie was a throwback to a bygone era. The spiced mussels weren't bad either, just too much of it.

    The animated version of 'Strange Fruit' looked like it was made using the Sims game.

    I'd go back again, but will be in Seattle for the 5th of July.



Thank you for your feedback - SouthSide