Are you aware that a beauty has been singing at Danny’s on Windward every last Wednesday of the month for the past seven years? Well! Pick up on this local jazz singer, Rachel Sorsa. She kicked off her October set with “Black Coffee,” a song with a Venice pedigree via composer Paul Francis Webster, father of our own Guy Webster (May I say that her version is authoritative? It is.).
Her set was filled with melodies you know, all the sad torch songs of yesteryear. She has a healthy handle on these tunes, and she peppers her show with her own like-minded pieces.
It’s nice to hear a skilled pro greeting her pals coming in, Venice-style. Despite her clean, pretty-girl looks, she pulls off ballads like “Cry Me a River” and “Nature Boy” with poignancy, and a purr reminiscent of Eartha Kitt. Particularly touching was her “West Coast Blues,” with its vintage suitcase imagery. Charlie Chaplin’s “Smile” kept up the Venice milieu. I especially dug her “Let Me Off Uptown,” which did so much for Anita O’day in ‘41. Her tip-top band let loose on that one!
I spoke briefly to Rachel about her love of Venice. “The beach is my gym, and the garden is my therapist.” (She runs 25 miles a week along the beach.) She finds inspiration for songs in this town. One of them, “Twenty Years from Now,” is inspired by the gay bar Roosterfish and a downtrodden patron. Another original, newly written and sung a cappella, ”I Roll with the Punches,” was penned in her Oakwood neighborhood about stopping the cycle of abuse, to others and to ourselves. Her new record, “Sisú,” was mastered at Michal Jost’s evocative, bohemian digs on Venice beach.
Ms. Sorsa ended her night with Screamin’ Jay Hawkins’ “I Put a Spell on You” … which she did, on us, the whole night.
Rachel Sorsa Band members:
Andy Allen – Bass
Gus Duffy – Drums
Preston Gould – Trumpet
Serge Kasimoff – Piano
Rachel Sorsa – Vocals/Songwriter