Jazz trio's energy fills train station If You Go

Posted: May 04, 2003

WAYNE — With Laura Munich's strong sultry voice, the accompaniment of a talented keyboardist, and Fred Weiss' red-hot improvising on the bass, the jazz flowing through the candlelit room was anything but standard.

From a medley by Brazilian composer Antonio Carlos Jobim to the bluesy "Gee, Baby, Ain't I Good To You," this trio of musicians dug deep to please an appreciative audience.

The musicians' energy and verve could have packed a New York jazz club, but their Friday night gig is at the historic Wayne train station, where locals wind down their week at the Station Cafe with a sip of cappuccino and the latest arrangement by keyboardist Bill Munich, Laura's father, who she says is the best accompanist she has ever had.

"It's just very relaxing," said John Dwyer, a writer who lives nearby and got hooked on the Laura Munich Trio over the winter. "You just let everything go and listen to the music."

The rumble of a passing train "is a little dose of reality every once in a while," said Dwyer. In the far corner, the Station Cafe's owner, Rob Sless, Laura Munich's husband, grinds the coffee and mans a bar with delicious desserts.

"It's nice to have an in with the owner," Laura Munich joked. The trio has been playing at the train station for about a year and a half, and has no plans to give up the gig.

Bill Munich, 58, of Ardmore, who has performed as a keyboard artist with such jazz greats as Mel Torme, said, "I've been playing music more than 40 years and I've never had as much fun."

Weiss, 50, who was the principal bassist in a symphony orchestra in Mexico and has played with various operas and theater orchestras, said that "the intimacy of the group and the setting is refreshing. . . . You really get to be a voice in the group rather than be part of a sound."

And, on a recent Friday, Weiss was really jamming on the instrument that he fell in love with while attending Berklee College of Music in Boston.

In 1976, Weiss moved to Philadelphia to study with renowned guitarist and jazz educator Dennis Sandole. A member of the Davidsbund Chamber Players at the Academy of Music, Weiss also played with the Philly Pops and performed with Mel Torme and jazz clarinetist Buddy DeFranco.

In the late 1980s, Weiss went to a summer festival in Mexico and stayed for 12 years. Weiss, who met his wife there, joined the Mexico City Philharmonic and formed an original jazz quartet that combined jazz, Latin, rock and classical music. After returning to Philadelphia, Weiss performed with Luciano Pavarotti and Andrea Bocelli.

As was evident at the Station Cafe, Weiss' improvising is "extremely creative and very inventive" yet there is "an extraordinary coherence," Laura Munich said. "It spins out of him in a way that's so coherent and expressive."

Weiss and Bill Munich had a lot of fun with "Lost Mind," a playful tune that Laura Munich enjoyed just as much.

Bill Munich, who earned his music degrees at Temple University, has performed as a keyboard artist with Al Green, Diahann Carroll and Gladys Knight. He described Torme as a "musician's musician."

Munich, who was on the faculty of Settlement Music School and taught music in the Philadelphia School District, is the leader of Jazz Works, an ensemble that introduces schoolchildren to instruments and all kinds of music from ragtime and blues to bebop. "I always enjoyed playing and talking about it, so that's a nice way to do it," he said.

Bill Munich comes up with the arrangements for the trio, with some input from Laura, who started playing piano at 6 and took up the violin at 11.

"We always made music at home," said Laura Munich, 34, who studied at Settlement Music School, and has done solo gigs playing the piano and singing, as well as ensemble performances.

A former photo editor for Philadelphia Magazine, the Ardmore resident is now studying romance languages at Bryn Mawr College.

During a recent performance, Munich sang the second chorus of "Triste," one of the soulful songs in the Brazilian medley, in Portuguese and "It Might As Well Be Spring" in French.

A versatile singer who knows the mechanics of music, Munich shared a mix of soulful, sultry jazz and some upbeat, playful numbers with the audience, scatting a chorus or two as the evening progressed.

"A Sleepin' Bee," with lyrics by Truman Capote from the Broadway show House of Flowers, showcased the talents of father and daughter. Laura Munich says her father captures the tension between the slow tempo and lush feeling of the ballad.

And jazz guitarist Joe Federico, who went to Temple with Bill Munich and has sat in with the musicians at the Station Cafe, added that when Laura Munich "sings a ballad. You feel it."

"I'm more relaxed than I used to be," Laura Munich said. "It's the best gig I've ever had."

Send Arts news to Mary Anne Janco, The Inquirer, 800 River Rd., Conshohocken, Pa. 19428; e-mail it to PAarts@phillynews.com; or fax to 610-313-8243. Contact Suburban Staff Writer Mary Anne Janco at 610-313-8217 or mjanco@phillynews.com.

Special Events

Vassar Show House & Gardens Historic home tours highlight area interior & exterior designers; proceeds provide scholarships for area students attending Vassar College. Ivy Cottage, 225 Lincoln Hwy, Exton; 610-527-9717. $20. 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Mons-Fris; 6-8:30 p.m. Tues-Fris; noon-4 p.m. Sats & Suns. Through 5/26.

*FREE* Canine Companion Awareness Day Discussion of canine companions for disabled persons, refreshments, fun; meet puppy raisers, graduate teams, volunteers. Canine Companions for Independence sponsors. Bryn Mawr Rehab, 414 Paoli Pike, Malvern; 215-602-2093. 1-4 p.m. 5/4. Registration required.

*FREE* Festival of the Arts Sales, exhibits, demos of juried arts & crafts; food, entertainment, music, children's activities. Everhart Park, Brandywine & Miner Sts, West Chester; 610-436-9010. 11 a.m.-5 p.m. 5/4.

Walk for Paws & Spring Music Festival Benefits Chester County SPCA. Myrick Conservation Center, 1760 Unionville-Wawaset Rd, West Chester; 610-692-6113 ext 222. www.ccspca.org. $20; $10 ages 6-17; younger free. Walk for Paws registration 9 a.m., Music Festival 11 a.m.-3 p.m. 5/4.

Dinner & Cooking Demonstration Gourmet meal created live by gourmet chef Susan DiBonaventura; Aston Public Library sponsors. Aston Community Center, Concord Rd, Aston; 610-494-5877. $30. 6 p.m. 5/8. Reservation required.

*FREE* From the Attic to the Underground Railroad Open house focusing on local history with displays, music. Upper Darby Sellers Public Library, 76 S State Rd, Upper Darby; 610-789-4440. 3-8 p.m. 5/8.

*FREE* Annual Kids' Connection Fun & educational activities for families residing in 26th Senatorial District; State Senator Edwin B. Erickson hosts. Ridley High School, Morton Ave, Folsom; 610-853-4100. 11 a.m.-2 p.m. 5/10.

Open House & Plant Sale Mother's Day flowers, annuals, perennials, trees; tours of historic grist mill & grounds. Mill at Anselma, 1730 Conestoga Rd, Chester Springs; 610-917-0447. www.anselmamill.org. Free. 9 a.m.-4 p.m. 5/10.

Trips

Chester Senior Center 721 Hayes St, Chester; 610-497-3550. To Cowtown, in S Jersey, for shopping & food. $5. 10 a.m. 5/6.

Coatesville Area Senior Center 22 N 5th Ave, Coatesville; 610-383-6900. Chef's Tour of Italian Market. $73. 5/21. Luncheon Cruise on Potomac with National Museum of American History. $80. 6/18. Finger Lakes. $230-$269 8/6-7.

Greenville Salon Boston, Salem, Sommerville, Mass. Includes bus transportation, breakfast & dinner daily, hotel, tours. Leave from Springfield Rd & Oak Ave, Clifton Heights; 610-259-2515. $449. 6/22-25.

Lower Merion Senior Center 36 Ardmore Ave, Ardmore; 610-649-5290. Canada: to Montreal, Quebec & Lake George. $649. 5/30-6/4.

Malvern AARP Chapter #5091 , Malvern; 610-644-1122 or 610-644-7615. Branson, MO. $929. Sept

Senior Community Services Philadelphia Orchestra and Philadelphia Singers performing works by Beethoven, Brahms at Kimmel Center. 600 Swarthmore Ave, Folsom; 610-237-8100. $99 orchestra seating, $39 third tier, includes transportation. 12:30 p.m. 5/9.

St James High School Alumni Association 610-566-1080. Discover Ireland trip to Adare, Kilarney, Dingle Peninsula, Blarney, Dublin, Knock, Galway, Conemara. $1,699 includes coach to JFK, airfare, hotels, breakfast & dinner daily, sightseeing tours. 7/11-19.

St Mary Magdalen Senior Explorers Sponsors trips to various destinations. 610-359-0931. New Orleans, Memphis & Atlanta, 9-day tour. $1,090 includes meals, lodging. Starts 5/28.

The Travel Club Lawrence Park Shopping Center, Lawrence Park; 610-356-0344. Niagara Falls. $259. 9/28-30.

Art Exhibits

Art League Penn Medicine at Radnor, 250 King of Prussia Rd, Radnor; 610-859-0765.

Barnes Foundation 300 N Latches Ln (2 blocks N of 54th St & City Ave), Merion; 610-667-0290. www.barnesfoundation.org. Work by Monet, Renoir, Cezanne, Rousseau, Matisse, Van Gogh, Toulouse-Lautrec, other impressionists & post-impressionists, African art & PA Dutch functional pieces. $5. 9:30 a.m.-5 p.m. Fris-Suns. 400 people allowed entry per day. Reservations required: 610-667-0290 option 5.

Brandywine River Museum Rtes 1 & 100, Chadds Ford; 610-388-2700. www.brandywinemuseum.org. NC Wyeth house & studio tours. $3 additional; ages 6 & over only. Maurice Sendak: 60 original drawings for books In the Night Kitchen, Outside Over There. Closes 5/18. James Wyeth, 35 paintings of dancer Rudolf Nureyev. Exhibition catalogue signing 2-4 p.m. Sat. Closes 5/18. James Wyeth's Night Vision, commemorates 20th anniv, Vietnam Vets Memorial Fund; print sales benefit Project RENEW mine action program in Vietnam. $6; $3 students, seniors; free ages under 6. 9:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. daily.

Bryn Mawr College Miriam Coffin Canaday Library, 101 N Merion Ave, Bryn Mawr; 610-526-5335. Joan of Arc show: books, sculpture, posters, postcards, more. Closes 5/31.

*NEW* Cheltenham Center for the Arts 439 Ashbourne Rd, Cheltenham; 215-379-4660. Neil Moul retrospective, sculptures, paintings, prints. Opening reception 4-7 p.m. Fri. Brunch 1-3 p.m. 5/11. Closes 5/31.

Franklin Mint Rte 1, half mile S of Rte 452, Lima; 610-459-6168. Boris Vallejo & Julie Bell, fantasy warrior sculptures. Closes 5/11.

Gallery at Cedar Hollow 2447 Yellow Springs Rd, Malvern; 610-640-2787. Craft show: glass, metals, jewelry, apparel, fine & decorative arts. Closes 5/26. Jewish Artist Guild show, mixed media. Closes 5/26.

Haverford College Cantor Fitzgerald, 370 Lancaster Ave, Haverford; 610-896-1287. Ruth Miller retrospective, drawings. Closes 5/4.

Haverford School 450 Lancaster Ave, Haverford; 610-642-3020. Outdoor group show, mixed media. Closes 5/30.

*NEW* Main Line Art Center Old Buck Rd & Lancaster Ave, Haverford; 610-525-0272. Crafts show: jewelry, fabric arts, ceramics, more. Opens Wed. Closes 5/4. Art exhibit & sale. Opening reception 6-8:30 p.m. 5/10. Closes 6/11.

Main Line Unitarian Church 816 S Valley Forge Rd, Devon; 610-644-0160. Open juried show on environmental theme, mixed media. Closes 5/4.

*NEW* James A Michener Art Museum 138 S Pine St, Doylestown; 215-340-9800. www.michenerartmuseum.org. Japanese ukiyo-e prints (1600s-1867) from Honolulu Academy of Arts collection. Opens 5/10. Closes 8/31. 30 international contemporary quilts from Museum of Arts & Design, NYC. Opens Sat. $4 additional. Closes 7/6. James Lloyd, 5 outdoor sculptures. Closes 7/20. Jack Rosen, 18 black & white portraits of area artists. Closes 5/11. $6; $5.50 seniors; $3 students; free under age 6. Hours: 10 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Tues-Fris (to 9 p.m. Weds), 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Sats, noon-5 p.m. Suns. Joint admission, Mercer Museum: $10, adults only.

Morris Arboretum 100 Northwestern Ave, between Germantown & Stenton Aves; 215-247-5777. www.morrisarboretum.org. Arboretum Dir Paul Meyer, photographs of Asian plantlife. Closes 10/5.

Tyme 17 W Eagle Rd, Havertown; 610-853-1215. www.tymegallery.com. Dane Tilghman, paintings; Anne Neborak, photographs. Closes 5/7.

*NEW* Villanova University Connelly Center, Rte 30 & Ithan Ave, Villanova; 610-519-4612. Robert F McGovern retrospective, mixed media. Closes 6/23.

Wayne Art Center 413 Maplewood Ave, Wayne; 610-688-3553. www.wayneart.com. Radnor Twp juried art show, mixed media. Reception 6-8 p.m. 5/7. Closes 5/9. National mixed media show juried by Jeffrey Carr. Opening reception $15. Talk 2 p.m. 5/10. Closes 5/23.

*FREE* Yellow Springs Art Show & Sale Juried: 180 artists in oils, watercolors, drawings, prints, sculpture, more; talk by Lori Verderame. Historic Yellow Springs, Lincoln Bldg, Art School Rd (off Rte 113), Chester Springs; 610-827-7414. www.yellowsprings.org. 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Sats-Thus, to 8 p.m. Fris. Closes 5/11.

Performing Arts

In Concert

International Dance Music Jams Open to musicians, singers. Upper Merion Middle School, 435 Crossfield Rd, King of Prussia; 610-688-3284. $3. 8-9:30 p.m. 3d Mons.

Professional & Community Theater

*NEW* Candida Shaw's comedy. Barley Sheaf Players, 810 N Whitford Rd, Lionville; 610-363-7075. www.barleysheaf.org. $10; $9 seniors, students. Fris-Sats. Closes 5/10.

*NEW* Cinderella Rodgers and Hammerstein musical; King of Prussia Players present. Upper Merion Area High School, Crossfield Rd, King of Prussia; 610-277-9505. $10; $8 seniors, ages under 13. Fris-Sats (added show Sun). Closes 5/10.

The Little Prince From the Saint-Exupery classic. People's Light & Theatre Company, 39 Conestoga Rd, Malvern; 610-644-3500. $20; $12 ages under 16. Thus-Suns. Closes 5/25.

Auditions & Rehearsals

Barnstormers Theater Ward & Tome Sts, Ridley Park; 610-769-3905. www.ridleypark.net/Barnstormers. Play Sumissions: submit plays for direction to The Barnstormers, PO Box 12, Ridley Park, PA. Attn: Play Selection. Or email brouhaha64@hotmail.com.

King of Prussia Players Upper Merion Area High School, Crossfield Rd, King of Prussia; 610-277-9505. www.kofpplayers.org.

Lansdowne Symphony Orchestra 28 N Lansdowne Ave, Suite 1, Lansdowne; 610-284-3719. www.lansdowneso.org. Ongoing auditions. Call for appt.

The Delaware County Concert Band Christ Presbyterian Church, State Rd & Fosse Ave, Drexel Hill; 610-543-3646. New members needed: all ages. 8 p.m. Tues.

Museums & Attractions

American Helicopter Museum & Education Center 1220 American Blvd, West Chester; 610-436-9600. www.helicoptermuseum.org. Shows, demonstrations on helicopter history & technology. . $6; $5 seniors, $4 students; free ages under 2. 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Weds-Sats, noon-5 p.m. Suns.

Brandywine River Museum Rtes 1 & 100, Chadds Ford; 610-388-2700. www.brandywinemuseum.org. $6, $3 seniors, students with I.D. & ages 6-12, free ages under 6. 9:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. daily.

*FREE* The Franklin Mint Museum Rte 1, S or Rte 452, Media; 610-459-6587. http://franklinmint.com. 9:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Mons-Sats & 1-4:30 p.m. Suns.

Wharton Esherick Museum Horseshoe Trail & Diamond Rock Hill Rd (off Yellow Springs Rd), Malvern; 610-644-5822. Studio home of sculptor/furniture-maker. $9; $4 ages 12 & under. Reservations required. 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Sats, 1-5 p.m. Suns.

For Kids & Teens

American Girl Fashion Show & Tea Program showcasing styles of yesterday & today; girls ages 5-12. Lily Langtry's, Radisson Hotel, 1160 1st Ave, Valley Forge; 610-651-0708. www.saturdayclub.org. $30. Noon & 4 p.m. Sat & 5/4.

*FREE* Borders Books 1149 Lancaster Ave, Bryn Mawr; 610-527-1500. Storytime; all ages. 11 a.m. Fris.

Practice SAT Exams Complete exam with score analyis; sponsored by Knights of Columbus Post #3858. 610-869-4926. $10. All 8:30 a.m.-noon.

For Singles

Parents Without Partners Delco chapter. 610-328-1855. Open dance with band. Knights of Columbus Hall, Baltimore Pk, Springfield. $8. 8-11 p.m. 1st & 3d Thus.

Professional & Business Singles Network 800-537-3859. www.pbsninfo.com.

Singles Breakfast Meet: Tiffany's, Roosevelt Blvd & Welsh Rd, Philadelphia; 215-639-4751. 9:30 a.m. Sats.

The Laura Munich Trio performs from 8 p.m. to 11 p.m. Fridays at the Station Cafe in the Wayne train station, 135 N. Wayne Ave. Espresso, cappuccino, light specialties and desserts are available. There is a $3-a-patron entertainment charge. For more information, call 610-687-1931.

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