Cabaret Review: Terese Genecco & Her Little Big Band

Here’s a recipe for a perfect Saturday night: go see a play, but make sure it gets out around 10, and then head to the Rrazz Room in the Hotel Nikko and see Terese Genecco and her Little Big Band’s Last Call show.

I had the perfect Saturday night when I saw Shining City, a ripping Irish ghost story, at SF Playhouse, then sauntered a few blocks to see Genecco’s show.

If you don’t know Genecco, you should. She’s a pint-sized dynamo and one of the Bay Area’s more recent contributions to the cabaret world. She’s neither precious nor twee – both conditions that too often afflict cabaret folk – but rather vivacious, funny and gifted with the need to swing in a big, bold way.

Genecco and her Little Big Band (a septet of piano, bass, drums, bongos, saxophone, trumpet and trombone) are in residence late Saturday nights at the Rrazz Room (their next shows are Nov. 22, Dec. 13 and Jan. 24), and if there’s a better way to turn Saturday into Sunday, I don’t know it.

On a recent Saturday night, Genecco was an unstoppable force as she grabbed hold of songs such as ” A Lot of Livin’ to Do,” “Ain’t That a Kick in the Head” and “You’re My Thrill” and wouldn’t let go until everyone in the place was at the very least tapping a toe.

Genecco’s sharp sense of swing emanates from the sense of joy she brings to her material. She clearly loves what she’s doing, and she communicates that joy through every crisply sung note and judiciously snapped finger.

With arrangements by bassist Daniel Fabricant and hot, hot sax man Tony Malfatti, Genecco never makes a misstep. She truly catches fire on an incendiary “Come Rain or Come Shine” – highlighted by the mad bongos of Jacob Lawlor – and then outdoes herself on “Unchain My Heart.

The horns – Malfatti is joined by Max Perkoff on trombone and the amazing Rich Armstrong on trumpet – are, in every sense, a blast. Such a brassy burst of excitement could easily overwhelm a singer, but not Genecco. She feeds off the horns and their bright, blaring sensuality.

Pianist Barry Lloyd, drummer Randy Odell and bassist Fabricant also provide solid support and get into the good-time groove that Genecco initiates.

The generous Genecco aims to share her Rrazz Room roost with various guests, and last Saturday that spot was filled by Russ Lorenson (who has his formal Rrazz Room debut, Standard Time, on Sunday, Oct. 12 – visit www.russlorenson.com for info), another local who should be getting more attention for his powerful pipes and keen sense of crooner-style rhythm.

Genecco reclaimed the stage with a fantastic “Drunk with Love” and even made time for a ballad (Maria Gentile’s aching, emotionally complex “If I Was a Boy”) before surrendering to the beguiling blare of the show-ending “St. James Infirmary” and “Kansas City.”

It’s a gloomy world out there, but with Terese Genecco and her Little Big Band in the house, it’s a whole lot brighter.

Terese Genecco and her Little Big Band are in residence at the Rrazz Room in the Hotel Nikko, 222 Mason St., San Francisco, at 10:30 p.m. Nov. 22, Dec. 13 and Jan. 24. Call 866-468-3399 or visit www.therrazzroom.com or www.teresegenecco.com.

1 thought on “Cabaret Review: Terese Genecco & Her Little Big Band

  1. I have been trying to get over to the Rrazz Room to see my friend Terese. It seems every time she plays the late night show, I have a matinee the following day. Hopefully I will get over to see her in November.

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