Somewhere in the two-drink-minimum section of heaven, Louis Prima is grinning.

The king of that ol' lounge-act 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.


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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.

Reach Pat Craig at 925-945-4736 or pcraig@bayareanewsgroup.com.

Review
  • WHAT: "Last Call!" with Terese Genecco & her Little Big Band
  • WHERE: Rrazz Room, Hotel Nikko, 222 Mason St., San Francisco
  • WHEN: 10:30 p.m. Saturdays through May 24
  • RUNNING TIME: 1 hour, 30 minutes
  • TICKETS: $25; 866-468-3399, www.therrazzroom.com