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Very Busy Dizzy

burnett & coe
Balancing Act: Dizzy Burnett and Grover Coe will meld upbeat swing with nostalgic jazz favorites at the duo's CD release party, happening on Friday evening at Kuumbwa.

With a new CD and a packed schedule, Dizzy Burnett and Grover Coe must double-time it to keep up with their new popularity

By Traci Hukill

NATTILY ATTIRED in a summer sheath that fits her tiny frame like a kid glove on a dainty hand, Dizzy Burnett wastes no time answering a nosy question. "Secondhand smoke," she replies stoutly. Her heavy-lidded brown eyes never waver in their gaze.

The question just posed to the singer is this: Where'd you get that sultry voice? That after-dark, torch-smoldering, smoky voice? You don't smoke, do ya, Dizzy? Sure, it's a frivolous question, but Dizzy and Grover Coe's new CD, Romantic Holiday, is so glamorous in a lush, '40s way and Burnett's voice so enchantingly husky that it seems worth asking. Packed with jazz standards and originals interpreted in the duo's elegant swinging style, Romantic Holiday makes you snap your fingers and long for the old days, back when they really knew how to make a starlet.

To the next question, Coe answers, "Grueling," just as Dizzy murmurs, "Rainy."

They're explaining what it was like recording their first CD last spring in an Aptos studio. It was take after take, recalls Coe wearily. The songs sound wet, observes Dizzy, and a discussion ensues of the album's water theme. "Beyond the Sea." "September in the Rain." "I Cover the Waterfront."

Soggy or not, a number of live takes made it onto the CD. After all, this duo's been together for four years. Live work, and especially improvisation, is the team's lifeblood. The songs have spring, snap, a subdued tension that translates nicely into musical energy.

"I know Grover so well musically, I don't have to think about [improvising]," declares Dizzy, and then in a brash moment asserts, "We're musically married."

Grover, who spends most of the interview listening and nodding, looks up. "It's like having all the responsible parts of marriage without the fun," he quips with a sly twinkle in his eye.

Purity of sound is the secret to Burnett and Coe's blossoming popularity at venues like Heart and Soul, the San Francisco supper club. In fact, between their regular Bocci's Cellar weekend performances, the Martini Club at Moe's Alley every Monday and a few gigs a week in the City, the pair is driven nearly to happy distraction. As all musicians know, there are worse ways to go.

In the midst of this hectic schedule, the cabaret "couple" is throwing a CD release party for Romantic Holiday at Kuumbwa this Friday. After last April's tribute to Billie Holiday, a smashing sellout success from which late arrivals had to be turned away, Dizzy and Grover are hoping for a return crowd of jazz fans.

Their lineup this time out reads like a copy of Billboard. Chanteuse Dizzy and guitarist Grover, who's played with the Drifters, the Platters, Queen Ida and many more, are joined by drummer James Bott of the Fabulous Thunderbirds and formerly of the Mighty Flyers and sax man Noel Caturo, one-time saxophonist for Chris Cain.

"Wear a costume," Dizzy urges, and hastily adds, "but it's fine to come as you are, too. We'll love you just the way you are."

That's not surprising. After all, love is the key to a happy Romantic Holiday.

Dizzy Burnett and Grover Coe celebrate the release of Romantic Holiday Friday (8pm) at Kuumbwa Jazz Center, 320 Cedar St., SC. Tickets ($6) will be available at the door. For more info, call 427-2227.

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From the September 12-18, 1996 issue of Metro Santa Cruz

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