By day, they work in the field of information technology. By night, they croon old jazz tunes from the likes of Ray Charles and Norah Jones. Vocalist Cheryl Duetsch and vocalist/keyboardist/trumpet player Darryl Ducommun make up half of “Jazz And All That,” one of the bands featured at Sister’s restaurant during its Friday jazz nights.
But how did two people in such a line of work become involved in a jazz band?
“I’ve been singing since high school, and before that, I was singing in church,” says Duetsch. Ducommun, on the other hand, admits to being “a bit of a late bloomer when it comes to singing.”
This doesn’t mean that Ducommun lags behind his fellow band member. He has been musically involved for 25 years by way of composing.
“It’s a dream to be published,” says Ducommun who has remained quite private about his work until now. “I’d like to be published when I feel confident they [the songs] are good.”
While their extracurricular activities may seem completely divergent from their chosen career paths, it was through their mild-mannered office jobs that they first met each other.
“A mutual friend from work introduced us. They knew we both have passion for the same type of music, for the same things,” says Duetsch before their performance. “And now is the time to let the work part of us slide and let the fun take over.”
According to Deutsch, the pair roots their repertoire in music from famous female vocalists such as Ella Fitzgerald and Billie Holiday. But the quality of material alone doesn’t fend off jitters before a performance.
“Having fun is a lot more fun than being nervous,” he says as someone calls for them to get performance ready.
The crowd at Sister’s is largely over 50. Big families as well as couples fill the dining area where the owner, known as ‘Millie,’ charges a $6 cover fee.
Retired broadcaster Henry Shannon is a regular at Sister’s. But it’s his first time at the weekly jazz night.
“All of us relate to the kind of music where you can hang on to the lyrics. It has to be something you can hum to, something you can listen to,” says Shannon while Duetsch gives a faithful rendition of “At Last” by Glenn Miller.
“That’s why people of my generation can relate to songs like that last one. We can sing to them,” he says.
Indeed, the band’s set reflects the crowd of the local restaurant. They begin with “Straighten Up” and “Fly Right” by the Nat King Cole Trio. They move on to numbers like “Georgia on My Mind,” and a jazzed up version of “Summertime” from Porgy and Bess.
Millie, who flits from table to table, sits down for a moment next to Shannon.
But that doesn’t last for long as the atmosphere in the restaurant is energetic.
Toward the end of the evening, couples dance under the spotlight in the buffet area to Frank Sinatra’s “Fly Me to the Moon.”
On jazz nights at Sister’s, it is a tradition for customers to conga line to “When the Saints Come Marching In.”
“I’m very impressed. They clapped and cheered. The energy was phenomenal,” says Ducommun after the show. “We definitely plan on returning.”