Susie Thorne – As Welcome As Rain.

It rained last Saturday during the opening act at the Rosemary Clausen Center’s second season. And Susie Thorne’s vocals were as welcome to the crowd in the auditorium as the rain to the fire-rated fields.

How lucky to be in the audience that night. It was like sitting in an intimate little jazz club minus the clinking of drinks and the subdued lighting.

Thorne and the musicians who accompanied her to Holstein are master purveyors of a gentle jazz with what some call “sidewalk syncopation”. Their style is meant for Everyman. It doesn’t matter if you’ve studied music theory for years or whether you just wandered in off the street because you heard some sweet sounds drifting out the door. Thorne has her own swinging way about her – that’s for sure. But all through her performance I kept getting flashes of Lena Horne. Thorne/Horne. Hmm – maybe there’s something cosmic going on here.

The guys who backed her up, although a person could hardly say they were in the background, are artists of the first order. Andy Hall handled his bass with a sure and certain delicacy. Darren Pettit’s sax absolutely sang. Ron Cooley’s guitar alternately wailed and scooted around the stage laughing. And as for Joey Guliziag – he’s the first unassuming drummer I’ve ever seen. He just sat back there grooving.

These five people are such a solid combination; so perfectly balanced; such a complete whole that it was a pure joy to listen to them. All their numbers were done so well that it’s hard to pick any one as being better than another. However, one crusty old farmer was overheard whispering to his wife during “Imagination”, “Hey – this is really good.”.

Then there was Cole Porter’s “You’d Be So Nice To Come Home To”. Now Nina Simone did that to perfection years ago, but so did Susie Thorne Saturday night. They just had different interpretations – different perspectives. And who would have thought Patsy Cline’s “Crazy” could get all duded up in righteous jazz? “Would You Rather Play A Guitar” was loads of fun and so was “You Are My Sunshine” as they one at a time waved good-bye and walked off stage.

It was a great show. ‘Nuff said.