It is always exciting to bring jazz to the listening room of the Poplar Knight Spot — but it was a thrill to wake up to front page news that a favorite album, “The Subject Tonight is Love,” was nominated for the Grammy for Best Vocal Jazz Album of 2018. That record was performed in Aberdeen,at the Rooster’s Wife, with Kate McGarry singing, Gary Versace on keys and Keith Ganz on guitar. While they didn’t win, getting the nomination is certainly worth crowing about.

Fast forward a year, and Versace and Ganz have a new trio with Sean Smith on bass. Jazz lovers might just know him, as he plays with Bill Charlap and Jacky Terrason, in New York. The band was so much fun the guys immediately started booking dates. They will play originals from all three members of the band with an emphasis on wide variety of moods and sounds, all within a very interactive, dynamic improvisational keyboard/guitar/bass trio.

Keith Ganz is a guitarist, composer, arranger and producer. He has performed with such jazz notables as Harry Connick Jr., Kurt Elling, Luciana Souza, Kate McGarry, Fred Hersch, Christian McBride, Chris Potter, Russell Malone, Bruce Barth, Donny McCaslin,  Victor Lewis,  Reuben Rogers, John Ellis, Steve Cardenas, Ben Monder, Theo Bleckmann, Peter Eldridge and Gretchen Parlato. He has appeared on “Oprah,” “Letterman,” “The View,” “Ellen,” and toured the globe from Mongolia to Melbourne. 

Since basing himself in New York City in June 2002, jazz organist, pianist and accordionist Gary Versace has quickly become one of the busiest and most versatile musicians on the scene. Versace has been a featured soloist on several critically acclaimed recordings of recent years: accordionist on Maria Schneider’s Grammy-winning recordings “Concert in the Garden” and “Sky Blue”; and as the pianist on John Hollenbeck’s Grammy-nominated large ensemble recording, “A Blessing.”

Basist Sean Smith has been an integral part of the international jazz scene for more than 25 years. He has appeared in  major jazz festivals, concert halls, and clubs all over the world. He is also a prolific composer whose works have been played and recorded by such artists as Phil Woods, Mark Murphy, Bill Charlap, Gene Bertoncini, Leon Parker, and Bill Mays. His music has also been featured in several films. His arrangements are cool, the ballads moody and gorgeous, sophisticated and emotional, intricate and uncluttered.

The Rooster’s Wife is a community arts organization dedicated to bringing the best in live music to the Sandhills. Home base is the listening room of Poplar Knight Spot, 114 Knight St. in downtown Aberdeen, two blocks east of U.S. 1 at the Rent-a-Wreck sign. Children are welcome. Under 12 attend for free. No BYOB, please; a full bar is available featuring Reverie Cocktails, and Southern Pines Brewing. Dinner is available on site. Tickets for this general admission show are $20 for members, plus N.C. sales tax. For more information, the complete schedule or to purchase tickets on line, visit or call (910) 944-7502.

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