The Paul Schmeling Trio — (left to right) Tim Church, Michael Barth and Paul Schmeling — and Danielle Kelly play pop-flavored jazz standards. - Photo by Steven Addington

Lounge act sets the mood at Martino's

Paul Schmeling views Gene Ammons' "Hittin' the Jug" as a pattern for his own jazz. "That's what it's all about," he says. "Listen to that, right there. No matter what time of day, you're going to want to pull all the shades and make yourself a martini."

Playing tenor saxophone, Schmeling and the rest of his trio — Michael Barth on upright bass and Tim Church on guitar — along with vocalist Danielle Kelly aim at recreating the lounge-act experience. The band plays at 8 p.m. Mondays at Martino's Restaurant & Bar, 58 E. Main St., Ashland.

Schmeling says he's pretty content with the band's situation: They play, "fill the place up" and have fun doing it.

"Our funny joke goal is to open at Britt," he says. "But we're not so ambitious as to want to do anything except for what we do."

A product of Ashland's public school system, Schmeling took band in fifth grade at Walker Elementary School and later participated in band and jazz ensembles at Ashland Middle School and Ashland High School. After he graduated, he joined Southern Oregon College's jazz ensemble and played in several rock, reggae, blues and jazz bands. Now, Schmeling devotes himself to his jazz project.

"I'm old, and I don't wanna play in loud bands anymore," he says.

More than three years ago, Schmeling and Barth started playing as a duo at Avalon Bar & Grill. The pair added Church a few months later to form the trio.

"Then one day, a friend of mine said, 'Can my daughter sit in with you?' " Schmeling says. "When she sat in, I realized I wanted to play with a female singer."

For more than a year, Calysta Rupert-Anderson filled this role in the band. After she left to attend Berklee College of Music in Boston, Kelly — a waitress at Chateaulin, where she first heard the trio play — asked if she could audition. Kelly's been singing with the band ever since. She graduated from Southern Oregon University with a bachelor's of fine arts in acting.

"Stylistically, Dani lays things back more and scats more, and Calysta, she had more of a voice that was closer to Sarah Vaughan," Schmeling describes. "It's like Diana Krall versus Sarah Vaughan."

The group plays jazz standards with some pop mixed in. Schmeling says the band has a repertoire of about 70 songs, including Bill Withers' "Ain't No Sunshine," a bossa nova version of "Shenandoah," Cole Porter's "Love for Sale" and Ray Charles' "Hallelujah, I Love Her So."

While their songs aren't original, their arrangements are. Schmeling says with such a small band, he can't help changing the songs up and adding original nuances here and there.

"We just do little things to try and make it more pretty," he says.

There is no cover to the trio's shows at Martino's. Find the Paul Schmeling Trio on Facebook or call Martino's at 541-488-4420.

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