This is a story Audrey Morris delivered as we were recording The Saturn Session in West Palm Beach. I’d corralled Charlie Cochran, Patti Wicks, William Roy and Audrey into a recording studio for an afternoon of song and anecdote and this is what Audrey told us -as I remember it. She said early in her career, she was entertaining in a Chicago club where the piano was in a sunken pit, below a circular bar. Now Audrey is a superb singer/pianist who deserves anyone’s full attention, but at this club the crowd was ignoring her intimate stylings and simply chattering away above her. Audrey did a full forty-minute set and became increasingly frustrated and depressed as she offered these gems to an unheeding crowd: Rodgers and Hart, Jimmy Van Heusen, Cole Porter, her whole classy repertoire fell on deaf ears. And then, as she took a break, who should enter the room but Oscar Petersen, the great Canadian jazz pianist.
To many aficionados Petersen comes next in the pantheon after Art Tatum. He was a musician of impeccable taste and invention -and a huge star in the world of jazz piano. Oh, Oscar, wailed Audrey, here I am singing my guts out and nobody hears a note; what am I doing wrong? Petersen smiled in sympathy. It’s not you, Audrey, he assured her, they’re simply not in the mood to listen now, and I’ll prove it to you -watch this: And he climbed into the pit, sat down at the keyboard and reeled off the most brilliant rendition of The Man I Love, with all his dazzle, taste and elegant brio.
And not one of the crowd paid the slightest attention.
There are half-a-dozen more stories like this on the CD, The Saturn Session –along with some of the tastiest performing and unusual repertoire. Patti and Audrey come from a jazz background, Charlie and Billy come from the Broadway/Hollywood arena. Bobbie Horowitz and I come from cabaret. You may sample all of us at CDBaby.com.