Small World

Seattle standard

Patti Summers Lounge sits calm and still, with fake trees and plants gussied up in white Christmas lights; handwritten notices above the tiny bar read, "A drink in a big glass costs $1 more" and "Believe it! A double costs you double." Next to the roomy stage are random photos of famous jazz vocalists—Billie Holliday, Cleo Laine, Bobby Short. And Liza Minnelli. It does something to you, nursing a stiff cocktail in this intimate grotto downstairs in the Market at 94 Pike.

"That's why I'm crazy," Patti says. "Gary and I have been under First and Pike for 18 years."

If she is crazy, she has relaxed into it. Nothing seems to faze her, even a night with only seven people in the house. The place feels personal; she and husband Gary make up the entire staff. He'll pour your drink, and she'll make your pizza right before she heads up to the piano for her set of jazz standards. Gary can be coaxed into bass or sax accompaniment. ("My husband, Gary, is a marvelous musician," Patti says, tickling the ivories, then, noticing he's not currently in the room, adds without missing a beat, "He's taking out the garbage.")

A poster on the wall promotes Patti's CD Patti Summers Sings About 9/11. The poster has Patti in ersatz Wonder Woman drag throttling Gary, who is dressed as Osama bin Laden.

"Actually, the posters are going like mad," Gary says. "That pop art kind of thing."

Patti sings songs from the CD during her set: "We have four CDs coming out," she says. "They will not be released. They will escape." The 9/11 collection includes her take on the Gershwin standard "Let's Call the Whole Thing Off," which has been retitled "The Kabul Stone Suite" and features the lyrics "You say bin Lay-den/and I say bin Law-den/bin Lay-den/bin Law-den/ Let's blow his whole cave up." There's also "Something Just Happened," a melancholy Summers original about the tragedy ("Freedom is golden/Somebody broke the rules/Freedom is everything/ The first thing you learn in school").

She chirps through the Berlin standard "Cheek to Cheek," updating it with references to sockeye fishing, bungee jumping, and the now-defunct Art Bar. Then she delivers a perfectly charming version of Steve Allen's "Spring Is Where You Are," warming it with smooth scatting, confident high notes, and phrasing tossed off like the pleasant greeting she gives you when you enter this private universe.

"How about a nice round of applause for Gary, my favorite bartender," she says. And the show goes on.

swiecking@seattleweekly.com

 
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