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The (4-year-) old Rrazzle Dazzle: San Francisco’s intimate nightclub, The Rrazz Room, celebrates another year

March 26th, 2012 Comments off

Rrazz Room impresarios Rory Paull and Robert Kotonly flank diva CeCe Peniston (Photo: Pat Johnson)

Last Wednesday night, a most eclectic constellation twinkled in the San Francisco night.  The Rrazz Room at the Hotel Nikko, perhaps the United States’ most adventurously booked boîte, celebrated its 4th anniversary with a benefit for St. Jude’s Hospital for Children. The evening’s “Whoa, how the heck are these acts gonna share a stage?” kind of lineup proved utterly successful. It reflected the wide-ranging tastes of Rrazz owner-impresarios Robert Kotonly and Rory Paull, long loathe to have their club perceived as a ‘cabaret’ with all the attendant stereotypes of dowager princesses downing too many expensive martinis to the songbook standards of their faded youth.

While the Rrazz’s quirkily curated booking calendar always incorporates some of same great interpreters of song who ply their trade at Manhattan’s Carlyle, Feinstein’s, and the late-lamented Algonquin Oak Room (Tyne Daly, Betty Buckley and Amanda McBroom have all played the intimate 186 seat room over the past couple seasons), Kotonly and Paull cast a much wider net. Well-regarded soul, R&B, gospel, comedy, jazz, burlesque and drag acts are a regular part of the offerings, as are some of the Bay Area’s best local talent—fortunate to have the chance to perform in such a jewel box of a venue.

Natalie Douglas, a sublime interpreter of song (Photo: Pat Johnson)

And so, last Thursday’s highlights swung like a drunken metronome from Edna Wright—spark plug sister of Darlene Love—belting “Want Ads,” a 1970 hit with her group, The Honey Cone; to local percussion legend Pete Escovedo and his sons pounding out a volcanic set of Latin jazz; to CeCe Peniston riling up the crowd with her dance club classic “Finally”; to a revelatory rendition of “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face” by Natalie Douglas, who deserves to be a household name.

More on the anniversary gala, and Rrazz room April highlights after the jump 

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