Who the Hell is Terence Love

RESUME: Owner/manager of Steamers Cafe, one of the best . . . oh, okay, the best jazz club in OC, and the only one that books jazz seven nights per week (save for the occasional blues gig every now and then-don't get picky). SECRET SORDID HISTORY: Born in Chicago 44 years ago, he moved out here in the early '60s. He became a successful restaurateur and frustrated sax blower. Love has always been a jazz lover, but he got tired of schlepping to LA clubs, where toxic, smoke-filled rooms, shitty sound systems, jabbering drunkards and rude waitstaffs were the norm. Thought he could do better, so he opened Steamers in 1994. FULLERTON, JAZZ CAPITAL OF THE UNIVERSE? He picked Fullerton largely because of the renowned music programs at Fullerton College and Cal State Fullerton. Love also had a higher calling to make jazz more accessible to young'uns because kids "were listening to too much 'rap 'n' crap,'" so Steamers is all-ages. OCT. 15, 1994: Steamers' opening night with the Dale Spaulding Band. Packed to the gills. The buzz kicks into gear the day after, and Steamers' rep spreads quickly: hey, a jazz club owner who's not an overbearing jerk! Who actually respects musicians! Who doesn't whine about combos playing too loudly or softly! Who's actually heard of John Coltrane! Say amen, somebody! The phone starts ringing and rarely stops-Love claims he gets 200 calls per day from people wanting to book gigs, which sounds at first like a gross exaggeration. But you kinda believe him. SMOOTH JAZZ BLOWS! Contemporary, Wave-like jazz (also known as dentist-office music)? Fuhgeddabowtit; he won't book it. He won't even let synthesizers cross the Steamers threshold. We think that's great-when we want to sleep, we'll pop some Sominex. HIS FAVE GIGS: Poncho Sanchez's first appearance. Rebecca Parris, a "fabulous" vocalist from Boston. Any time the Jeff Hamilton Trio or Herb Geller bless his stage. MORE PONCHO: Sanchez is probably the biggest artist to play Steamers-so far. The guy loves the place. How'd Love get him? Easy: Sanchez rang him up and asked if he could play. Wisely, Love said yes. Sanchez has been back 32 times. Claustrophobes, keep away when Sanchez is on the bill-he sells out the joint every time. KENNY G AND THE MASSES ARE ASSES! Love gives props to Kenneth Gorelick for helping to bring jazz (albeit a watered-down, catatonia-inducing brand of it) to a big audience, even though his audience obviously has no clue what real jazz is. We say that sucks, and so does Gorelick. However, Love would have no problem booking the G-man if he'd take the regular Steamers rate and step up his tempo a bit. It's dangerous having people fall asleep face-down into scalding hot cups of coffee, y'know. CONFESSIONS OF A YES JUNKIE: Love was deeply into '70s prog-rock when he was growing up, which is why he once booked ex-Yes and Moody Blues keyboardist Patrick Moraz. Moraz fired off weird, out-there, avant-garde stuff, the kind that usually doesn't grace the Steamers stage. But what the hell-now he can brag to his friends at his next high school reunion. If we could, we'd do the same thing. HARSHEST CUSTOMER COMPLAINT: "Why can't this place be in LA?" BIGGEST MYTH: People walk in on a busy night and think Love is raking in the dough. Hmmm . . . table service, with a wait staff he has to pay; musicians featured seven nights per week, whom he also has to pay; and tiny-or frequently zero-cover charges. Oh, yeah, he's rolling in it. DESCRIPTIVE FOOD METAPHORS: On their Latin-jazz nights, being at Steamers is like getting a jalapeno-and-salsa-verde enema-and never wanting it to end. ALL-TIME FAVE ALBUMS: Kind of Blue by Miles Davis-everybody's fave. And Dexter Gordon's Go! Thanks to the magic of CD rereleases, he's discovering stuff that was recorded 40 years ago that he's never heard before. POUND DOWN THE COFFEE; YOU'LL NEED IT: Jan. 6-9, 1999. The International Association of Jazz Educators, the biggest jazz organization in the world, will hold its annual conference in Anaheim, and Steamers has been named the official club. A couple of all-night jams are on tap. No joke-the plan is to have bands going until 6 a.m. or so (try doing that with punk rock shows). No word on an after-gig breakfast. THE FUTURE: Absolutely no plans to expand into a worldwide Planet Steamers megachain of 55,000-square-foot "eatertainment" jazz emporia, with sequin-studded T-shirts, embroidered leather baseball caps, and $400 denim Steamers logo jackets for sale in a gift shop. Instead, he sees Steamers becoming the top jazz club in SoCal in about two years, if it ain't already. Thinking about a live compilation CD of artists who've played the club, and maybe some concert broadcasts through KLON or the Steamers Web site (www.jazznet.com/STEAMERS). Eternally sticking to straight-ahead, Latin and big-band sounds, keeping it authentic, keeping it real.Steamers Cafe celebrates its fourth anniversary with a party hosted by KLON's Chuck Niles and performances by Jeff Hamilton, Tierney Sutton and Tom Rainier at 138 W. Commonwealth Ave., Fullerton, (714) 871-8800. Thurs., Oct. 15, 8 p.m. Free. All ages.

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