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Bazzle, who is in her early 50s, guides her life in her own steady way. She has been performing in local nightclubs for the past 20 years. for many of those years, she has also taught full-time. After a gig, with the smell of the barroom in her clothes, she gets home about 1:30 a.m., steals a scant night's sleep, and arrives at Xavier Prep early the next morning wearing smart color-coordinated outfits and flawless cranberry nail polish. There, she becomes Miss Bazzle.
Still, when Bazzle is up on stage, all you see is the grace, the discipline so ingrained it forgets itself. the kind of high style that comes from a deep place. her smile or her tall slender body contorted by song. Bazzle standing against a red stage curtain with cigarette smoke clinging in its folds. Bazzle in a liquid evening gown and pearls.
The musicians who work with Bazzle say they respect her immensely. She knows music, and it makes a difference when they play together. Often Bazzle will, with her left hand, discreetly and casually direct the bassist, the pianist and the drummer. "She's like an instrumentalist, the way she reacts with the band," says Johnny Vidacovich, 36, an innovative local drummer who has always been in demand. "It's not like backing up and accompaniment. It makes the job about 85% better. She's just an abundance of technique and flexibility.
Her voice is a rich, dusky contralto, full of quirks and surprises. Her sound is uncommon, unhummable, idiosyncratic, real. As one music critic put it, she is an acquired taste. Her repertoire consists, for the most part, of classic tunes written by Cole Porter, George Gershwin and Duke Ellington, freshly interpreted and given new arrangements.