"We see romance every Friday night during our evening of cool jazz," said Jeff Taylor, a performer at jzCool Eatery and Wine Bar in Menlo Park.
"As one plays, you see all manner of celebrations, first encounters and anniversaries. The ones that are best usually revolve around a glow that comes from their faces as they both pause to take in the music. Usually, a ballad gets them every time. Tonight it was 'Somewhere over the Rainbow,'" he said one Tuesday in January.
Taylor is a member of the Peninsula Jazz Society, which has 60 local musicians who perform around the Bay Area. Members play at jzCool Eatery and Wine Bar on Wednesday evenings and at the Pioneer Saloon in Woodside every other Thursday night. Candice Hawley, who performs as Candice, had her first paying gig at age 16. Now a grandmother, she has a long history of love stories. Jazz is a fluid force that is shaped by the individual delivering the song, she said.
"Music softens hearts. People will often use a musical situation to melt the heart they want to embrace."
Candice will perform a set at the Pioneer Saloon on Valentine's Day from 8:30 to 10 p.m. Among the romantic tunes she will perform include "Crazy He Calls Me," "I'm Confessing that I Love You," "Day by Day," "Embraceable You" and "You Turned the Tables on Me." On the first and third Sundays of every month, she appears at Domenico Wines in San Carlos from 4 to 7 p.m.
"A song can be sung three different ways — as a ballad a bassa or uptempo swing. There can be 10 people in front of you and portions of that lyric or melody will affect people in different ways," she said. "It's the freedom that exists, like the freedom in romance."
People often request songs as a prelude to a marriage proposal, she said.
"With jazz standards, a couple will be sitting together and the gentleman will slide his chair closer to the lady and will sing the lyric along with me to his girlfriend or wife or sweetheart. It's so sweet," she said.
The most requested song? "My Funny Valentine," she said.
Cascal Saturdays 8:30-11:30 p.m. Some shows on Friday nights at 9:30 p.m. 400 Castro St., Mountain View 650-940-9500; www.cascalrestaurant.com
iTapas Wednesdays 6:30-9:30 p.m. 445 Emerson St., Palo Alto 650-325-4400; www.itapaspaloalto.com
jzCool Eatery and Wine Bar Wednesdays at 6 p.m. 827 Santa Cruz Ave., Menlo Park 650-325-3665; www.cooleatz.com/jzcool-eatery
Peninsula Jazz Society Local jazz at various venues. www.peninsulajazzsociety.org
Pioneer Saloon First, third and fifth Thursdays each month at 9 p.m. 2925 Woodside Road, Woodside 650-851-8487; http://pioneer-saloon.com/calendar
Savvy Cellar Wine Bar and Wine Shop Saturdays. Call for time. 2048 Broadway St., Redwood City 650-363-8737; www.savvycellar.com