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Terese Genecco Live!: Press

New York Times Logo

"The wild party continues at the Iridium, where the singer and bandleader Terese Genecco recently celebrated her third anniversary of once-a-month Tuesday-evening performances with her raucous eight-piece Little Big Band. This spiky-haired self-described “love child of Dean Martin and Judy Garland” is a natural extrovert whose combined roles of performer, bandleader and M.C. make her a gregarious cheerleader for the brassy ’50s and ’60s Las Vegas lounge music she adores..."  READ MORE BY CLICKING THE LINK BELOW.

Wall St Journal Logo

"There were no 'mice' in the Ratpack—it was strictly an all-boy's club. But if Frank, Dean and Sammy ever returned from the Great Casino in the Sky, the first youngish female singer that I'd recommend to join their clan is this high-voltage entertainer. Ms. Genecco is deeply rooted in the early 1960s, the colorful last gasp of the era of swingin' lovers, and, as such, draws equally from Louis Prima and Sammy Davis on one hand and Ray Charles and Elvis on the other. On the last Tuesday of each month, she and her three horns and five rhythm put on an unstoppable juggernaut of a set at the Iridium, with one hard-hitting swinger after another, pausing only for what she describes as a mandatory 'two-ballad maximum.' The calendar may say Dec. 28, but Ms. Genecco makes every show seem like New Year's Eve."

Terese Genecco's monthly love-in at Iridium recalls another era when big bands were fronted by girl singers who went on to become stars (like Rosemary Clooney, Anita O'Day and Doris Day, etc.)  At a time when there's not much left out there to revisit an age we will never see again, along comes Genecco from San Francisco.  She's a temerarious dynamo with a flair for brassy delivery on making the standards swing.  Sometimes at the piano or at the drum kit, this girl singer works the room and shakes up Times Square as the longest running cabaret show on Broadway.

Joe Regan Jr.’s 2011 Top Ten Cabaret and Music Shows
1.  “A 95th Birthday Tribute to Russ Garcia” starring Shaynee Rainbolt, Terese Genecco and the Little Big Band, with guest star Billy Stritch, featuring Russ Garcia and his lyricist wife Gina Garcia participating via Webcam and Skype.  This was, without a doubt, the “event” act of the year, with extraordinary performances by three singers at their peak, with nine musicians.  Between the numbers, Garcia told his life story, his work as a teenage musician bandleader, interacting with the audience.  Fortunately, the event was recorded and is on the Iridium’s website.

Now into its third year, the two-set show that powerhouse performer Terese Genecco headlines at Iridium on the last Tuesday of every month is considered the “longest-running nightclub act on Broadway (near 50th Street). It’s also called “the biggest little party,” but the late June extravaganza was more like a celebration. Iridium manager Scott Barbarino, Iridium owner Ellen Hart Sturm (also owner of the adjacent Ellen’s Stardust Diner) and Terese herself were all celebrating June birthdays. And if that wasn’t enough reason to party, Terese also announced her impending marriage to the jazz singer extraordinaire Shaynee Rainbolt—just a few days after New York State passed a same-sex marriage law. Given Terese’s affinity for swingin’ Sinatra, it was a shock she didn’t bust out singing “Love and Marriage.”

Reviewing a Terese Genecco show, especially when she performs with her eight-piece “Little Big Band,” makes you feel you’ve come late to the party. How does one come up with more creative superlatives for this raging talent than have already been written? In the Cabaret Scenes web archives alone there are six reviews since 2007 by four different writers and all are raves. And that’s not counting the Wall Street Journal tribute that sits on the top of Terese’s website. It’s a tough job, but another critic has to do it.

From the moment the diminutive, spiky-haired brunette hits the stage in her gender-bending black suit over a powder blue shirt, she seems to transform into a larger-than-life entertainer, especially when rollicking through a Latin swing number like “It Had Better Be Tonight” (“Meglio Stasera”). Since Terese is also a drummer and pianist, she brings an instinctive, pulsating sense of rhythm to her singing. As her sets are often filled with iconic 1950s and ’60s Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Sammy Davis, Jr. numbers, Terese has been called a “one-woman Rat Pack.” She completely knocks out of the park songs such as “Ain’t That a Kick in the Head” (Dean) and “Any Place I Hang My Hat Is Home” (Sammy). In the second set of the June show, her version of Davis’s “West Side Story Medley,” with just drums and percussion backing her up, was a tour de force. And if Sinatra heard Terese deliver Bill Zeffiro’s swinging new song “Universal Truth” —a potential MAC Award nominee—(“You’re just a schmuck in love”), he’d probably want to come back for a recording session.

Terese can also exhibit a broader range on swinging arrangements of “Somebody Loves Me” and “The Man I Love” (the latter transformed from the conventional ballad into an upbeat Latin tempo), the Sinatra version of “I’ve Got You Under My Skin,” Cole Porter’s “Night and Day,” Arlen and Mercer’s “Come Rain or Come Shine,” and even Motown with “I Heard It Through the Grapevine.” She’s that rare club singer who possesses the ability to deliver touches of swing, jazz, blues and pop all in one song or throughout an entire set.

It takes a confident performer to front the “Little Big Band,” a veritable all-star team of cabaret/club/Broadway show musicians, led by the ubiquitous Musical Director/pianist Barry Levitt. On this night, the fabulous horn section included Kenny Lavender on trumpet, Jeff Lederer on saxophone and Mark Miller on trombone. When you add the sensational Sean Harkness on guitar, Tom Hubbard on bass, Ray Marchica on drums and Mayra Casales on percussion, you’ve got a mini-orchestra that would give David Letterman’s Paul Shaffer-led group a run for the money.In fact, one of the minor flaws in Terese’s show is that the individual band members and the band as a whole, aren’t featured even more. When Terese takes a short break during each set, on come the attractive, but pedestrian-sounding female trio dubbed “The Tropicabana Girls” (homage to The Golddiggers from the old Dean Martin Show) for two or three numbers. I’m as much a fan of female pulchritude as the next guy, but this schtick isn’t necessary. And Terese being dwarfed by the three tall blondes on a “What the World Needs Now Is Love”/“The Glory of Love” medley just isn’t enough fun to be worth the trouble. Instead, the band should get an extended instrumental number to wail away on. The horn section might absolutely rock on something from Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass. (Terese on “This Girl’s in Love with You” would be a hoot.)

Terese is such a compelling Energizer Bunny on stage, with an engaging sense of humor (“I have a question for you,” she blurts out late in Set 1, “Does this show make me look gay?”), she could easily carry both sets herself. While for the June “birthday party” it was a nice touch to have Scott Barbarino reveal his inner Dean Martin on “Memories Are Made of This” (clad in a sparkly gold schmata only a mother or Liberace could love), bringing precocious 19-year-old Nicolas King on for three numbers derailed the momentum in both sets. You’ve gotta love a teenager with a fine voice who appreciates music from the swing, jazz and big band eras—he even scats—but the kid with the Bobby Darin vibe still needs work on his stage presence and song arrangements. (In the May show, his jazzy version of Frankie Valli’s “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You” was way too stylized and over-acted.) Terese is clearly a fan of King’s emerging talent, but their duets had some awkward moments and lacked chemistry. Bottom line: Keep the concept of  a guest star (but a more mature, bigger cabaret name) and lose the Trop Girls.

Those nitpicks aside, the most impressive thing about Terese Genecco is her obvious versatility, which is why her “Little Big Band” show could play to packed houses for years on Broadway or the Vegas Strip. She can take to the piano on “The Man I Love” or “The Look of Love,” play a tambourine during a sax solo on a riveting rendition of “Unchain My Heart,” and deliver the aching, introspective Marie Gentile/Caren Cole song “If I Was a Boy” as if it were her own story. When Terese and the band ended the June show with the rollicking, bluesy Leiber and Stoller hit “Kansas City,” I thought Barbarino should consider a parody on the lyric to help market the show. “Going to the Iridium, Iridium, here I come. They got a talented little woman there, and I’m gonna get me one.”

Terese Genecco and her “Little Big Band” perform at the Iridium again for two sets on July 26 and August 30.

There’s a monthly party going on in New York and you’re all invited. Don’t be crying in your beer if you miss your chance to see Terese Genecco at Iridium while the ticket is still reasonably priced and before she moves on to the world’s great halls.

The irrepressible Genecco-an old school, world class entertainer the likes of which many decry that they don’t make anymore-bounds onto the stage with her (count ’em) seven piece band (her Little Big Band, she calls them) and launches into Charles Strouse’s "Lot of Livin’ to Do." Dressed in a black tux, shirt and tie, this dynamo-like many of the greats before her-is short in stature but gigantic in talent and charisma.


There are many one night benefits, galas and celebrations and though many are star filled, most are not unique enough to be considered an “Event.”  “A 95th Birthday Tribute to Russell Garcia” starring Shaynee Rainbolt, Terese Genecco, Billy Stritch and an all-star 9-piece “Little Big Band,” featuring Garcia’s signature four-trombone sound, was an “Event” at the Iridium Jazz Club.  The great musicians in the “Little Big Band” for the record were John Fedchock, John Allred, Nate Mayland and George Flynn on trombones, Bud Burridge on trumpet, Cliff Lyons on tenor saxophone, Ray Marchica on drums, Tom Hubbard on bass, and Stritch on piano.

A unique part of the “Event” was the presence of Garcia, unable to travel, and his wife-lyricist Gina, live on Skype giving us great anecdotes of his life and professional experiences and interacting with the performers and the audience.  The entire performance was streamed live worldwide on and is still available.  (Note: The stream begins with a static shot of the stage.  You are able to fast forward to the performance beginning)


Russell Garcia

The evening began with Russ Garcia and Gina speaking directly to us (there were big screens in the room so everyone in the sold-out house could see and hear). From time to time, he gave personal history, growing up in Oakland, California, seeing the Golden Gate Bridge being built, playing in a band while a student, dropping out of college because he knew more about music than the professor, and eventually landing in Hollywood where his prolific recording, composing and arranging career began.  Among the bands for which he wrote arrangements were Stan Kenton and for movies “The Glenn Miller Story” and “Touch of Evil.”  Shaynee Rainbolt, two years ago, did a tribute album Charmed Life which won a MAC award, and an original song written by Garcia and Rainbolt won Best Song the year prior.

Rainbolt, in a beautiful blue dress, sang Garcia’s “Flying Free,” a rhythm number on which she soars above the horns, wailing in the style of Cleo Laine.  Genecco showed up on stage in a black suit with an electric blue shirt that matched Rainbolt’s dress color and did Garcia’s arrangement of “Somebody Loves Me,” with great solos by Hubbard and Stritch.  Genecco and Stritch also did Garcia’s arrangement for Mel Torme of “Swinging on the Moon.”

Genecco explained Stritch had opened the Metropolitan Room five years ago with his Mel Torme show and Genecco was the second booking with her Frances Faye show.  This evening, Genecco commissioned Tom Hubbard to recreate Garcia’s “Porgy and Bess” arrangement for Frances Faye and Mel Torme. Garcia, on screen, told us that when Bethlehem called him about doing the album, he asked them which one was playing Porgy!  Stritch and Genecco did an exciting “Bess You Is My Woman” showing off great voices and spine-tingling electricity, creating a moment of thrilling rapture for an audience full of major cabaret and Broadway stars. Rainbolt, with acknowledgement to Marilyn Maye in the audience, did a rip-roaring fast “Take Five” with those four trombones and the band wailing down the sound barrier.

Rainbolt returned to do the title song from the Garcia album “Charmed Life.”  Genecco returned and did a number from Faye’s folk song album, Garcia’s exciting arrangement of “Frankie and Johnnie.”  There were more personal reminiscences by Garcia and the band did a full scale instrumental of a Garcia original.  When Rainbolt and Genecco returned again, they turned the laptop around and the entire room sang “Happy Birthday” to Russ Garcia, who is “younger than springtime” at 95, still composing and teaching young musicians.

It isn’t every day we can celebrate like this, but we can look forward to future engagements by Genecco and her “Little Big Band” on December 27th at the Iridium (well into her third year), Rainbolt at her regular series at Ashford & Simpson’s on West 72nd Street, and Stritch with major stars that keep him busy year round.  Hopefully we’ll see Genecco and Stritch do a full “Porgy and Bess” concert sometime in the future.


If you do not think you know Russell Garcia, you do.  Google him. If you have ever heard the big band arrangements of Mel Torme, Ella Fitzgerald, Elvis Presley, Louis Armstrong, Frances Faye, Judy Garland, Anita O'Day, Oscar Peterson Jr. and hundred of others ... you know this man.  If you were at the Iridium last night, not only would you have gotten to know his music, incredibly presented by Shaynee and Terese with a band that can only be described as "from the heavens", you would not have missed a show of a lifetime.  Ladies, what you pulled off here is a BIG DEAL.  Amazing.  What a show!  What a concept which all started from Shaynee trying to research a song called "Go Slow" which was done by Julie London which led her to Julie's arrangement which led her to contact Mr. Garcia.  A CD, a CD show tour and shows all around the world including in New Zealand, they landed at the Iridium last night to celebrate Mr. Garcia's 95th Birthday.  Tonight we were T-R-E-A-T-E-D to one of the best shows I have seen all year. Column: 11/7/11

NOTE: Sadly Mr. Garcia passed away only two weeks after he was able to see this live show happen via Skype. His music lives on in these women.

SHAYNEE RAINBOLT & TERESE GENECCO in A 95TH BIRTHDAY TRIBUTE TO RUSS GARCIA - Celebrating a Living Legend! - IRIDIUM JAZZ CLUB (1650 Broadway, NYC - 212-582-2121 )

If you do not think you know Russell Garcia, you do. Google him. If you have ever heard the big band arrangements of Mel Torme, Ella Fitzgerald, Elvis Presley, Louis Armstrong, Frances Faye, Judy Garland, Anita O'Dea, Oscar Peterson Jr. and hundred of others ... you know this man. If you were at the Iridium last night, not only would you have gotten to know his music, incredibly presented by Shaynee and Terese with a band that can only be described as "from the heavens" led by the incomparable Billy Stritch, you would not have missed a show of a lifetime. (Not that there was much room left in the sold out club.)

You would also have gotten a chance to actually meet Mr. Garcia who, due to health issues could not be there to lead the band last night, but who was SKYPED in to watch the show with his lovely bride and songwriter/collaborator Gina Garcia from their home in New Zealand. What a lovely, funny man he is! We were also treated to some clips of an interview with Mr. Garcia what gave us even more insight to how he spent his live making a living doing what he loved, making music.

Ladies, what you pulled off here is a BIG DEAL. Amazing. What a show! What a concept which all started from Shaynee trying to research a song called "Go Slow" which was done by Julie London which led her to Julie's arrangement which led her to contact Mr. Garcia. A CD, a CD show tour and shows all around the world including in New Zealand, they landed at the Iridium Tuesday night to celebrate Mr. Garcia's 95th Birthday.

From the moment Shaynee sang the riff to "Flyin' Free" we were all hooked and I STILL have that line in my head because it's just do hep (as the cool cats say!) This combined with selections of Terese's previous award winning tribute show to Frances Faye, another person Mr. Garcia arranged for, and we were T-R-E-A-T-E-D to one of the best shows I have seen all year.

All the numbers presented were great and well sung, that goes without saying with these two singers, but two other real standouts for me were: Shaynee's beautiful rendition of the Garcia & Garcia tune, "Come Home Again" and Billy and Terese's duet on a chart arranged by bassist Tom Hubbard on their version of selections from "Porgy & Bess". This number needs to be recorded. It was simply fantastic.

The show ended appropriately with Shaynee closing with "Charmed Life" which Mr. Garcia claimed he had indeed lived and then Terese following up with her crazy big, swinging version of "Frankie & Johnny".

I'm still on a cloud from this show. I wish they were doing it again so that I can make you all go to see it. I cannot say how incredible this band was and, unfortunately, I did not receive the musician's names in time to list them in this review properly but know that they, along with the actual arrangements and the entire evening were equally as much a part - or co-stars if you will - of this event. This was definitely and "event" and a night I will not forget any time soon. Congratulations my dear sisters in song for a spectacular show!

It was the last Tuesday of the month and once again Terese charged out with her Little Big Band and Broadway was swinging. "It Had Better Be Tonight" really took on a special meaning as her opening song, it was the mantra for the band to take off in the tradition of the Johnny Carson Tonight Show Orchestra. Add Klea Blackhurst as her guest and the mix became an intoxicating evening, taking the audience back to the days of the Rat Packs swinging Las Vegas shows.

Klea who will be starting her appearances on the Onion News Network TV show this Friday gave a preview of the character she will be playing, and everyone in the packed room seemed to be texting a reminder to tune in. BTW it's Friday at 10 pm Time Warner 81, or as Klea said "Please don't watch in Hi Def on channel 781." However Genecco again gave a Hi Definition reminder of what swing is and why this is the Iridium's "Longest Running Show on Broadway."
An extra added attraction was the appearance of Dean Martin (in the personage of Scott Barbarino) with the Iridiums version on the Copa Girls singing "Memories Are Made Of This."

Terese Genecco & Her Little Big Band packed the house last night at The Iridium for another high-energy, super-charged Las Vegas-style performance.  In addition to Genecco's big, swingin' vocals, the generous host welcomed friends and guest stars to join in on the fun.  Producer/performer Scott Barbarino took the stage and enlisted Genecco to sing back-up vocals for him on the Dean Martin favorite "Memories Are Made Of This" then flew solo on Genecco's signature tune "Ain't That A Kick In The Head." 

Also in the line-up was local MAC Award-winning jazz singer Shaynee Rainbolt (next at Ashford & Simpson's Sugar Bar on January 15, 2011 who sang a tasty "Take Five" and the Latin-flavored "Esta Tarde Vi Llover" in the first set and two cuts off her sophomore CD "At Home" in the second set.  Broadway (Sunset Boulevard, Cats) star Rosemary Loar ( sat in and wailed with the band in both sets as well.  Guitar virtuoso Sean Harkness celebrated his birthday in style with a couple of gorgeous solo guitar numbers in each set.  (

Genecco ended her first set by kicking out drummer Joe Abba and taking over at the drum set while she sang and played a rocking version of Ray Charles' "Unchain My Heart" and she ended the second set, to a standing ovation, with an audience demanded encore of "The Man I Love" with Genecco at the Steinway and leading her 8-piece band at a breakneck tempo.  The critically acclaimed and multi-award-winning (MAC, Bistro, Out Music) Terese Genecco and her little big band have been appearing at The Iridium on the last Tuesday of every month since March 2009 in an open-ended run.  They are produced by ScoBar Entertainment and

This is one hot chick who is also one cool cat! Terese Genecco heads up eight fab musicians in an easy, swingin’ vocal jazz style opening with Lee Adams/Charles Strouse’ “A Lot of Livin’ To Do.” She’s a take charge gal proficient in every aspect of music and performance, keeping the Great American Songbook alive and kicking. From Mel Torme’s “Let’s Go Swingin’on the Moon’ and Rat Pack goodies  “Something’s Gotta Give” and “Any Place I Hang My Hat is Home,” Genecco grabs her audience and holds on tight with her powerhouse sassiness.

Her generosity overflows as she invites guests to perform including her producer and manager of the Iridium Jazz Club, Scott Barbarino, who paid tribute to Dean Martin with favorite “Ain’t That a Kick in the Head.” Shaynee Rainbolt, MAC Award winning jazz singer, was next on stage wowing with Latin “Esta Tarde Vi Llover” (Yesterday I Heard the Rain) and Broadway artist Rosemary Loar conquered with an original riffing improv take on “One o’clock Jump.”

Guitarist Sean Harkness soloed in honor of his birthday and Terese showed off her multi skills as she took over at the drum set singing and playing a steaming “Unchain My Heart,” ending her first set to a full appreciative house.

Terese Genecco & Her Little Big Band can be seen at the Iridium Jazz Club the last Tuesday of each month at 8 and 10 p.m.

Swing Detonates on 51st Street:

The diminutive powerhouse, Terese Genecco, and Her Little Big Band “kick it” from Broadway clear across the Hudson, creating the kind of big, brassy, expansive swing that flourished in the forties and fifties. Eight terrific musicians and their vocalist leader, commandeer the Iridium stage for over two hours of what genuinely feels like a party. The salty Genecco kids her collaborators with warmth and familiarity reminiscent of The Rat Pack. She’s clearly where she belongs up there.


It’s hard to believe that the dynamo who sings with the eight-piece band every month at the Iridium and beyond, for many years made a good living selling insurance, but such is the case for Terese Genecco.

In late 2008, Dwight Halvorson, a Sacramento man who had given her a start in the insurance industry many years before - and where she ended up after many moves back and forth from the East to West Coast - told her, "There’s nothing left for you to do here." In the economic downturn, he was forced to reduce expenses, so he laid her off, gave her a severance package and encouraged her to pursue fulltime performing at last. Unbeknownst to her, that was perhaps Halvorson’s dying wish for her, as he succumbed to cancer in January 2009..


As a part of Under The Covers, the New York Nightlife Award winning series produced by Lennie Watts, Terese Genecco sings this ground-breaking album from start to finish, in a groundbreaking live performance, accompanied by Musical Director Sean Harkness on the guitar! From the lilting blues – ballad arrangement of "Blue Suede Shoes" to the rocking "Just Because," Ms. Genecco presents Elvis' self-titled first album, Elvis Presley (recorded in 1954, 1955 and 1956), track by track, with a twist – every song is sung to a different beat than the original.

I warn you, this is not your mother's Elvis. Ms. Genecco conceived and arranged the show with the always amazing Sean Harkness. As a result, we are treated to a tone-poem version of "Blue Moon" and a slow jazz cover of "Tutti Fruiti." Add to the mix a blues guitar arrangement of "Heartbreak Hotel" (from the 1999 reissue with extra tracks), pepper the sauce with behind the scenes anecdotes of Elvis' personal life (Mama walked him to school every morning and walked him home every afternoon) and stories of the people he encountered along the way, and how these songs came to be included on this album, and you have a perfect evening Under The Covers.

Full of unexpected rhythms, later in the evening Mr. Harkness treats us to a wonderful guitar solo of "I Want You, I Need You, I Love You" (also from the 1999 release), and Ms. Genecco ended the evening with a rousing rendition of "Viva Las Vegas," with the entire audience singing along.

Whether you are a devout Elvis fan, or a devout Terese Genecco fan, or both, this is a great show not to be missed.

The bad news is that there are no upcoming performances of the Elvis show in the near future. The good news is that Terese Genecco and her Little Big Band perform the last Tuesday of every month at  Iridium Jazz Club, 1650 Broadway (@ 51st St), which means this Tuesday, April 27th! There are two shows, 8pm and 10pm. Cover charge is $25 with a $10 food/bev minimum.

The latest scientific theory is that the major climate changes, melting of the ice cap, and increase in storms and thunder and the planet heating up are actually all linked to Terese Genecco’s volcanic and blistering hot singing with various blistering hot bands.

The snow belt and the monsoon belt are nothing compared to the Genecco belt.

When that big voice gets going and is in the zone, it ain’t the temperate zone.

This super high-energy performing as strong as the force of a Level 3 hurricane has blown into town to blow the roof off the Iridium.


"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 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 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 doesn't mess around, boy.

She and her "little big band" are playing most Saturdays through May at San Francisco's Hotel Nikko in a rollicking retro show titled "Last Call," but it might as well be named "Party Time."

Genecco's sheer personality lights up the stage as much as her vocals in a Las Vegas-style performance that amusingly has a two-ballad limit.

More is more with Genecco, who reprises some tunes from "Drunk With Love: A Tribute To Frances Faye," her 2005 cabaret act at the New Conservatory Theatre Center.

Between fun banter on opening night - she schmoozed with friends and local cabaret insiders in the audience - Genecco fit in swinging interpretations of everything from the Beatles ("A Hard Day's Night," "Yesterday") to Cole Porter ("Night And Day," "What Is This Thing Called Love") to Bacharach ("The Look of Love") and Lieber and Stoller ("Kansas City").

Her appropriately-named band of awesome local musicians includes pianist Mike Greensill, saxophonists Fil Lorenz and Tony Malfatti, trumpter Rich Armstrong, bassist Daniel Fabricant, trombonist Max Perkoff, drummer Randy Odell, and, last Saturday, special guest percussionist "Mr. bongo" Jack Costanzo, who played on cult favorite/nightclub singer Faye's 1958 live album "Caught In The Act."

When Genecco breezily describes herself as Judy Garland and Dean Martin's love child, she gives an excellent impression of what she's all about.

Cabaret lovers won't want to miss her "Last Call."
Somewhere in the two-drink-minimum section of heaven, Louis Prima is grinning. The king of that ol' lounge magic is smiling because Terese Genecco & her Little Big Band are carrying on the tradition of high-energy musical excitement that Prima and his gang for years created to electrify the wee hours in Nevada lounges.

OK, Genecco and her group go on at 10:30 Saturday nights in San Francisco's Rrazz Room, and that's hardly the wee hours. But in a city where entertainment, particularly for slightly older audiences, shuts down before TV's prime time drops into the abyss of the 11 o'clock news, it's a welcome addition to the downtown music scene.

The Little Big Band follows whatever act is playing the Rrazz Room Saturday night, offering continued entertainment to cabaret fans who stick around, or people who drop by after a late dinner or a show for a jolt of music before heading home.

And a jolt is exactly what Genecco offers. Early on, she announces the show has a two-drink minimum and a two-ballad maximum. And she delivers just that with a sizzling bongos-and-brass (including the killer saxophone wielded by the remarkable Jean Fineberg) series of arrangements that sends you energized into the night.

Song selection is mostly from the Great American Songbook, but even the familiar old standards get a new sound from the group. Genecco also peppers the act with tunes by Billy Joel and some Rat pack staples such as Dean Martin's "Ain't That A Kick In The Head," written by James Van Heusen, which is a charmer.

The act especially shines when arrangements and presentation are surprising and unexpected, as they are with the Gershwins' "The Man I Love" and an astonishingly good version of "Unchain My Heart," by Bobby Sharp
"Don't miss this fabulous singer in - don't walk - to catch her live!"
Terese Genecco Brings the Best of Vegas to San Francisco In “Last Call!”

With a big, belting voice, a tight 7-piece band, and all the sass and sound of a late-night Vegas nightclub act, Terese Genecco rocks San Francisco’s Rrazz Room with her almost-every-Saturday-night show, “Last Call.” From the first downbeat, this show blasts off like a rocket and never slows down. Genecco takes her audience on a high-octane ride of rhythm-driven, foot-stomping songs, edgy humor, and playful banter. Her message is clear: “Last Call” has a strict 2-ballad maximum policy. This show is designed to keep you rocking all night long.

Dressed in a tailored suit and white dress shirt, Genecco opened the show with her signature “good evening” vamp, a la Frances Faye, acknowledging and welcoming her audience in a friendly, playful way. And since Genecco’s audiences are often filled with other singers, musicians, actors and comedians, it’s fun to hear her drop a few names as she sings “Good evening” to comedians Judy Gold and Danny Leary, who were in the audience the night I was reviewing the show, as well as Kim Nalley, local jazz singer soon to be starring in Duke Ellington’s “Queenie Pie.”

With her audience properly acknowledged, Genecco tears into a driving, up-tempo arrangement of “What Is This thing Called Love,” followed by “Love is Just Around the Corner.” The usually sweet and charming tune, “Out Of This World” and the often haunting “You’re My Thrill” are transformed into high-powered, vocally demanding show-stoppers. Song after song, Genecco never lets up on her full-throttle energy or her powerful, turbo-charged voice.

“I’ve been told that I could be the love child of Judy Garland and Dean Martin,” Genecco jokes just before she jumps into the Judy Garland arrangement of “Come Rain or Come Shine,” featuring her percussionist, Jacob Lawlor. At first, Genecco dials it back a bit, showing a softer, more tender side of her voice, allowing a bit more vibrato into her sound. But as the song builds, she lets loose a fire hose of sound, belting higher and higher, as the song rips through the room like a musical typhoon, leaving the audience dazed, delighted and gasping for breath.

When she’s not singing with every neuron of her body, Genecco plays with her audience, teases her bandmates and indulges in a little sexually-suggestive, late-night humor. It’s obvious that she’s not here to simply sing an endless string of uptempo songs; she’s here to entertain and make sure her audience is having fun.

“Last Call” is never the same twice. Each show features a different set of songs, jokes, banter, unexpected surprises and special guest artists. The band configuration changes, too, though the horn section usually features Tony Malfatti on saxophone, Max Perkoff on trombone and Rich Armstrong on trumpet. The rest of the band often includes bass player, Daniel Fabricant, pianists Mike Greensill or Barry Lloyd, percussionist Jacob Lawlor and Kelly (“Animal”) Park on drums.

Genecco often features a guest singer who happens to be in town that week. On the night I was there, she invited New York jazz singer Shaynee Rainbolt to sit in and sing “Come Home Again,” a beautiful Russell Garcia ballad that will be on Rainbolt’s new CD. Local jazz singer, Kim Nalley also sat in, singing, “Do You Know What It Means To Miss New Orleans.” Since Genecco’s 2-ballad maximum was filled by her guest artists, she had only one option: to keep powering through her lineup of fast, hard-driving tunes.

Genecco reprised the “greatest hits” from her “Drunk With Love” show, such as the Frances Faye arrangements of “Night and Day,” “ The Man I Love,” and what may become Genecco’s signature song, “Unchain My Heart.” The pinnacle song of the evening was the Russell Garcia arrangement of “Frankie and Johnny,” in which Genecco showed off the more subtle nuances and textures of her infallible voice. Her ability to create characters and build the arc of a story turned this familiar tune into a melodramatic blues-operetta, with Genecco playing all the parts…including the chorus!

She finished the show with yet another hard rockin’ tune, “Kansas City,” giving it everything she had yet sounding like she had plenty more. Finally, being called back by a standing ovation from the audience, Genecco gave us her one and only ballad, the darkly beautiful, “Drunk With Love,” which she sang with such restrained melancholy and regret that you couldn’t help but wish she had sung a whole show of ballads.

“Last Call” continues every Saturday night at the Rrazz Room in San Francisco until the end of May. The show starts at 10:30pm, but you won’t notice the hour as you listen to Terese Genecco sing with enough raw power to launch a N.A.S.A. space shuttle. She and her stellar band are sure to take you on a racy, raucous ride of hard driving music, engaging humor and all-out fun.
TERESE GENECCO: Cabaret's Class 4 Hurricane! Jan/Feb 2008

She's hot. She's brassy. She's bold, and sexy. Terese Genecco (pronounced "Teh-REECE Jeh-NECK-oh") continues to attract critical acclaim and new audiences wherever she performes - whether it's San Francisco, Hollywood or New York City. She gives her horn section nicknames like "Stinky, Spitty, and Slide." Her energy is prodigious, and her banter between tunes is like jazz; a loose script, different every night.

Whether in her solo shows or on stage at new York's Mabel Mercer Cabaret Convention, Genecco wows the audience. Her tribute to Kate Smith at the 2007 Convention brought down the house. The applause had scarcely ended when she headed forty blocks south to offer her "Drunk With Love: The Sequel" to a late-night audience at The Metropolitan Room. As she'd done at the Convention, she captivated the audience with her vocal power, artistry and pure joy of performing.

Genecco has enjoyed a dazzling amount of attention in the scant three years since the debut of her first solo show, "Drunk With Love: A Tribute To Frances Faye!" The show's five week run in San Francisco was followed by a stand at New York City's encore Room and her appearance at the Cabaret Convention that October. She was nominated as a MAC Award contender for best female debut, and earned an invitation to be the second act, sandwiched between Billy Stritch and Karen Mason, to help inaugurate New York's then-newest nightclub, the Metropolitan Room, in the spring of 2006. And that brought Genecco a 2007 Backstage Bistro Award plus a spot on Time Out New York magazine's Top Ten Best Cabaret shows.

Who is this tempest of a performer, band leader, vocalist, and musician who is knocking everyone's socks off from coast to coast? Originally from an idyllic little town nestled into the Bristol Hills at the northern tip of Canandaigua Lake in upstate New York, she grew up with an older brother and surrounded by 12 close cousins and an extended italian family. Her mother, Susan Genecco, noticed that at five years old, Terese was relentlessly plunking out melodies on the family piano in the living room, and convinced the local piano teacher to break her minimum-age rule and let the youngster begin lessons.

Terese was a natural, and in addition to the piano, eventually learned to play the guitar, cello, saxophone, drums, and percussion. Throughout her high school years she played and sang in every school band, orchestra, chorus and ensemble available, and studied dance, acting, and music theory. one summer she was at the Fred Waring Choral Worksho and the next at the Carnegie-Mellon pre-college musical theater training program. There followed enrollment in and then graduation from Syracuse University's Drama Department, with a major in musical theater.

Canandaigua Lake may have been home to her, but it offered little to hold an aspiring singer-actress. It was ither New York City or Hollywood, and Genecco concluded her deliberations with a three-week journey, crossing the country California-bound on a motorcycle that was four hundred pounds heavier than her petite five-foot, 105-pound frame. "It was the coolest thing I've ever done," she says, "and I'm glad I got it out of my system at an early age. I've only crossed the country by land four times since then, and non of them on a motorcycle."

While waiting for the big break, Genecco's day job took over her life, and a handful of years down the road, she was enjoying success in as workaday field as one could find, commercial insurance. She'd build an impressive roster of clients, and had a beautiful home high in the Oakland Hills with the family piano in the living room. The music career was on longterm hold, until a meeting with Broadway legend Barbara Cook finally set those musical wheels back in motion.

"I'd first met Barbara Cook in London during my final year of college, immersed in a semester of music and theater studies overseas. A group of fellow students and I waited for Ms. Cook outside the Palladium after her performance, hoping to get her autograph. Instead of an autograph, we were invited home with Barbara and her long-time musical director, Wally Harper, where we gathered around the piano and sang with them until the wee hours of the morning! She was gracious, and beautiful, and encouraging to each of us. It was a magical night. I sang 'Chain Of Love,' which I had been rehearsing for an audition. it never occurred to me that I should be intimidated to sing a song that Barbara Cook had originated on Broadway. I truly just wanted her adivce on how to make my version better! Ah, the blissful ignorance of youth!" Genecco laughs.

I met Barbara and Wally again in San Francisco on New Year's Eve 2000, and to my great surprise and pleasure, not only did they remember that night in London, but told me they had often commented on it to each other over the years and agreed that it was one of their fondest show business memories. Then they asked me if I was still singing and I told them no, I was too busy selling insurance. Barbara gave me a look and said, 'What are you waiting for?'"

Genecco resolved then and there to resume her dormant singing career. A cabaret class was offered twice a year at A.C.T. in san Francisco, but with the winter/spring session already begun, she planned to take the class in the fall. Before she could, disaster struck. One sunny spring morning while Genecco was at the office, her house in the Oakland Hills caught fire, disrupting all her plans. Yet another New Year rolled around before she wa back in her restored home, considering a return to her musical ambitions.

While Genecco was seeking a seasoned accompanist for her first cabaret show, an internet search brought up an advertisement for a 2003 San Francisco Cabaret Competition. The next foggy Thursday night she set out to investigate the proceedings, and a week after that, with an assigned piano player, she belted out her first three songs. A panel of judges and an appreciated crowd put her on her way to the semi-finals.

The three months of preliminary rounds provided Genecco with what she considers the strong foundation of her later success. She was in the audience every single performance, learning the craft and forging relationships. She met jazz/cabaret legend, Wesla Whitfield, and was encouraged by the competition judges to take one of Whitfield's master classes before the semi-final rounds, which she did. The relationship endures as a strong friendship between the two. Genecco also was introduced to "the Crown Prince of San Francisco Cabaret," Barry Lloyd, now a frequent collaborator and another dear friend. NYC jazz/cabaret vocalist Shaynee Rainbolt, still a resident of the Bay Area at that time, became an artistic and business collaborator. The two developing performers played mutual roles for each other, acting as personal assistant, publicist, errand runner, and/or the other's motivational counsel. During the competition, Genecco found an artistic turning point. Steve Murrya, one of the competition judges (and now a Cabaret Scenes magazine reviewer and contributor) encouraged Terese to listen to Frances Faye and Faye's live 1958 recording, "Caught In The Act." The youthful Genecco had never heard of Faye, but ordered the recording. She put the CD into her car stereo and states that her life was altered on the spot. She instantly fell in love with Faye's style, charisma, character, double-entendres, and musicianship. She played the song "Drunk With Love" over and over until she memorized it, then went home and worked out the music at her piano. She brought the arrangement to rehearsal and she and Lloyd decided it would be a standout for her in the semi-final round. Lloyd added some finishing touches and at her performance, Genecco received the highest score of the entire competition, advancing her to the finals at The Herbst Theater the following week.

Another random, and fortunate, event occurred that week during a visit from Amy "Bob" Englehardt, the female voice and songsmith for the a cappella group, The Bobs. Amy, a former college classmate of Genecco's, reminded her of a gem of a comic number. "Amy called her husband Alex in L.A.," Genecco recalled, "and had him locate and fax up the sheet music for 'Garbage' by Sheldon Harnick to us," and the winning song for the finals was decided upon.

Not only did Genecco win the "debut" category in the Cabaret Competition, but her combination of her signature song, Billy Joel's "New York State of Mind," and Harnick's "Garbage," propelled her to the event's overall win. She received the Jo Carol Davidson "Entertainer of The Year" award to cap off the months-long competition, and set in motion the next phase of her musical development. "Once I returned to my first love - which has always been music - I realized it was time to give it my undivided attention," said Genecco. Selling insurance wa transferred to the far back burner, and the flame soon was turned off for good.

Singers and musicians seem to gravitate to Genecco personally and professionally. percussionist Mayra Casales, working with Terese at the Metropolitan Room, terms her "absolutely fantastic, a very powerful woman, and a pleasure to play with." Drummer Randy Odell calls Genecco "dynamic...she pulls out all the stops." San Francisco trombonist max Perkoff admires "her very flexible voice that's able to adapt to a wide variety of styles. She's as wonderful at singing sweet ballads as she is at up-tempo jazz, pop and rock." He adds, "she treats the band wonderfully." jack "Mr. Bongo" Costanzo, joined Genecco performances at her San Francisco and Hollywood CD release concerts last summer. Performing with the legendary musician, Terese was treated to a rare onstage thrill, introducing him with the identical words Faye had on that 1958 album, "May I present, on my right, Jack Costanzo on bongos."

What's next for Genecco? This February, she's booked at San Francisco's spanking-new cabaret/jazz venue the Rrazz Room in the posh Hotel Nikko. She and her "little big band" will be the regular late-night party fare on Saturdays. her ability to please and emotionally connect to her audience members seems a 'given." She's got a great combination going for her - her music, her energy, her emotional attachment to the subject matter, her friendship and interaction with her adoring band members, and her deep devotion to the American popular song.

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