It was a long weekend in California – to a writers’ conference, working on that other thing I’d like to do someday. I learned lots of new things, met many interesting new people, and spent Friday night in Fullerton, in Orange County – at a club called “Steamers Jazz Club and Cafe.”
And there, I got an introduction to Gina Saputo.
Before I packed up, a little Googling led me to quotes like “a young Sarah Vaughan” from the LA Times, or that she’s five years out of USC (on scholarship) with a degree in Jazz Studies. Ms. Saputo has done backup work for the likes of Barbra Streisand, Barry Manilow, Neenna Freelon, and Bonnie Raitt.
Nice blurbs from Tierney Sutton, who produced Ms. Saputo’s first album.
But nothing compared to the recommendation from the fellow on the phone when I made the reservation.
“You like girl singers,” he said, “you’re gonna love her.”
He was right. As I write this, I’m listening to tracks from Ms. Saputo’s MySpace site, and I’m reminded not only of her range, but her stellar phrasing – whether a ballad, or some of the swinging rafter-shakers that closed the set. Easy banter with the band and the audience – a cool pair of socks from a Japanese tour, and half-song’s worth of channeling Billie Holiday made it a fun night out.
The backing band included Yoon-Seung Cho on piano (with whom she’s working on a new recording), Steve Pandis on bass, and Evan Stone on drums.
By the end of the first set, they were firing on all cylinders. The venue is a good one – I’d recommend reservations and an early arrival for a close-up view. Being a tourist, I was unfamiliar with it – but I’ll be back when I return for next year’s conference.
Hope Ms. Saputo is there, too.