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Jazz : Graham Raises the Standards

Giorgio’s Place is one of the Southland’s less accessible jazz locations, but once found, in a large office building in Long Beach, it offers such rewards as the voice of Sandy Graham, who was on hand Friday and Saturday.

Long a local presence, Graham is a poised and ingratiating performer whose jazz inflections are immediately apparent. Making occasional and effective use of a personalized vibrato, she brings individuality to a generally well-selected group of standard songs, none of them excessively familiar.

Opening with “You and the Night and the Music,” a 1934 Howard Dietz-Arthur Schwartz collaboration, Graham sustained the rhythmically compelling mood that had been established in a preliminary instrumental set by the Vicki Von Eps Trio. Von Eps, an engaging soloist and intelligent accompanist, was hampered by the overloud bass of Bob Saravia. Tony Inzalaco on drums completed the threesome.

Graham gave warmly sensitive readings of “Good Morning Heartache” and “Lover Man.” Her closer was an unlikely selection: “Ace in the Hole"--not the old barroom ballad but a much hipper song from a 1941 Cole Porter show. She brought to it an effervescence that marks all her up-tempo forays.

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Graham has a long track record as a first-rate purveyor of seldom-heard songs. It is high time to find room for her on the record scene, provided that unreconstructed singers still have a place in that money jungle.


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