Howard Colman in front of his legendary jazz club Green Pastures , Elmira New York

"You can learn the math of jazz from a book but you learn the Art of Jazz on the bandstand "  Nancy Kelly

This Must Be The Place

 

It’s the first Sunday night in December

and Nancy Kelly’s just back from France,

singin’ and shinin’ at GP on Madison Ave.

You know where it’s at

the north side of the viaduct, east side of the city.

She doesn’t sing the blues

but that’s OK ‘cause you’ve got ‘em with you

sittin’ at a back table next to strangers

who turn out to be neighbors from

Watkins Glen, west side of Seneca

You and your old man

Who’s got a suitcase full of blues

that he can’t drop.

No way to laugh them away,

He’s feelin’ oh so sorry for bein’ old

You’re thinkin’ of ways to leave town

when you spot Deke and Georgie McGrady

at a table right in front, next to the bar

with a close up of Nancy

and Dino Losito’s way cool trio.

The music draws everyone into smiles

heads noddin’, feet tappin’

And your guy suddenly becomes a hero by

askin’ some bar side giant to move

and then buyin’ him a drink for sitting down.

First break, you get to Georgie and Deke

to talk about kids and grandkids, yours and theirs

and passed friends like Way and ‘Lores

and the old days, shakin’ your heads

over the world and where it’s headin’.

So, you go back to your table, feelin’ light and looked after

and the music starts again, up tempo,

Nancy makin’ the old standards new and bright.

Nothin’s young here tonight.

You both move to another table

in the back room with a better view

and see Howie Coleman, the owner,

who just celebrated his eightieth

with George Reed, Wednesday nights’ drummer,

older than Howie, sittin’ on either side

of a sweet young thing of forty,

Howie callin’, “Oh sing it tender, Nancy!

Be gentle with me, girl!”

All of Green Pastures lovin’ it and laughin’

and your dear man leans forward

and rubs your achin’ shoulder in just the right spot.

 

Kaye C. Newbury

The Philly Years 1982-1986 

House singer at Jewels Jazz Club on broad street Philadelphia. 

This is an article taken from the Philadelphia Inquirer, 1986. 

In the words of club owner Jewel Man Lassiter, "I feel we are re-pioneering jazz in Philly," Jewel continues. "It has had its great days of jazz, it had been a city of music; then all of a sudden it died. Nancy helped bring jazz back alive in Philly.” 

Jewel brought in Betty Carter, Gloria Lynne, Jimmy McGriff, 

Arthur Prysock, Dakota Staton,. She tried out newcomers - Nancy 

Kelly, Janice McClain. And the customers came, with Jewel's attracting the city's black movers and shakers as well as professional people, students from nearby Temple University and others seeking good music and good times. 

 

 

Herbie Mann played there ,tenor sax player Al Cohn and organist Jack McDuff were booked. Houston Person and Etta Jones, Shirley Scott and a young B3 Virtuoso, Joey Defrancesco were favorites as well. Jewel likes to call her place, “The new Cotton Club". 

Jewel continues, “The performer who stirred the audience's passion was singer Nancy Kelly, a Rochester, N.Y. native who had worked at a couple of Philly clubs before coming to Jewel's.” "I sat in and sang one song, and she hired me on the spot,'' said Kelly, now living in Upstate N.Y. “I was the only blonde in the place,'' she quipped, adding that her stint at Jewel's was ``the greatest learning experience of my life.'' 

"I came in and I thought - Wow!, that voice,'' said Mann-Lassiter, who was looking for a house singer. Kelly, a white singer whose husky, soulful voice and amiable banter with the audience made her a hit, Nancy stayed four years performing with the house organ trio. A historic time in B3 jazz history.