While letting the soothing sounds of the Bob Murphy Jazz Ensemble wash tickle their ears, people soaked up the sun in front of Queen Bee Ice Cream, Pizza Primo and Los Gallos Taqueria in the Marsh Manor Center in Menlo Park Thursday.
The beautiful, warm afternoon weather drew about 30 residents from across the region, including some from Menlo Park, Redwood City and Atherton, who indulged in some dinner, drinks and treats on the outdoor patio.
As folks chatted, they enjoyed slices of pizza, tacos or an ice cream cones, while the soft notes of bossa novas, swing and compositions by famous jazz musicians such as Paul Demond, Dave Bruckbeck and Miles Davis drifted over them.
"I'm loving the music," said Barbara Johnson, a Menlo Park resident, between bites of carne asada tacos chased with sips from a cold Dos Equis beer.
Other people tapped their feet and nodded to the beat as the evening breeze gently blew the summer air across the patio.
Little children danced, played games of tag or begged their parents for ice cream cones. Shorts, flip flops and sunglasses were so common in apparel choices among those enjoying the music, one would have sworn it was the required dress code.
The silky horn played by Bob Murphy flirted with the evening air, playfully peaking an occasional high note before ducking back down to cruise at a lower tone. The band encouraged crowd participation by allowing them to sing along to a rendition of "Guantanemera."
The lighthearted and cheerful feeling to the song couldn't have been more appropriate for what was hopefully the beginning of a long stretch of warm weather on the Peninsula.
The staccato strums of Spanish guitar played by Dan Niekarz paired with stabs from Murphy's horn followed by a little sing along provided the perfect carefree atmosphere to accompany the summer evening.
"What a wonderful way to wind down the week," said Doug Sanchez, an Atherton resident, who came to enjoy the good vibes Thursday evening with his wife Wendy.
After a few rounds of pitchers of cold suds were delivered to a table, even a little karaoke broke out. One brave crowd member tried his hand at Tony Bennet's classic tune, "I Left My Heart In San Francisco."
As the evening matured the sugar from the ice cream took control of the indulgent children, and their games became increasingly loud and rambunctious. Some showed interest in the jazz trio, and stood amazed in front of the band as they played.
During an intermission from the music, one especially interested junior member of the audience stood asking questions to bassist Perry Thoorsell about the instruments.
"The kids are the best part," said Murphy, watching Thoorsell show his bass guitar to the young man. "Their interest in learning to play is so pure."
After the brief break, Murphy picked back up his horn and performed his finest Miles Davis impression, playing the legend's classic tune "So What" from what many consider to be the preeminent jazz album of all time, "Kind Of Blue."
The tune's title could not have been more appropriate for the prevailing, care-free attitude that engulfed so many in attendance.
"Life is good, hanging out here has been great," said Menlo Park resident Pat Lyles, looking up from reading his newspaper.
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