May-June 2008 

SUZY WILLIAMS AND HER SOLID SENDERS

performing at the Temple Bar throughout 2008

By Joel Okidasuzy williams.jpg

About a mile and a half from the boardwalk and just past the promenade of Third Street in Santa Monica, on a stage encompassed by shadow and red, a raven-tressed figure gyrates back and forth to the big beat of a sizzling band. The LA Weekly calls her, "L.A.'s Diva Deluxe," but perhaps a better monicker would be Suzy "the Doozy" Williams. Williams coaxes and cajoles her Solid Senders 8-piece rhythm section to reach for that something extra on the upbeat tunes and eyelashes them to caress those minor keys on the ballads. On any given night, the Solid Senders include: Kahlil Sabbagh (bandleader and vibes), Brad Kay (piano), Dave Jones (bass), Nick Scarmack (drums), Danny Moynahan (sax), Dan Heffernan (sax), Dave Weinstein (trombone and arrangements) and Corey Gemme (trumpet).

Although it is vibes man, Kahlil Sabbagh who leads the band, Suzy conducts the electricity that flows thru the pumped up unit. Granted the usual line-up that makes up the horn section is tight and well-versed in the sassy jump blues and 40's era swing tunes that are the staples for this group, but those brass knuckles pack a powerful punch when fired up by the frenetic force of Williams. Suzy conjures up the spirits of Louis Jordan and Anita O'Day and perhaps even a bar or two from Roy Milton and His (own) Solid Senders.

To catch a Suzy Williams show is to witness a singing ball of energy and a performer who can't help but make her music contagious. An LA original that should be seen, you cannot frown upon or dismiss her. She's here to make you beam and ready to assist you in getting out of your funk and into her blues (or vice-versa, musically speaking).

The versatile performer also has garnered high praise for her Sophie Tucker portrayal. Jazz greats, Horace Silver, Roosevelt Sykes, Eubie Blake and Hadda Brooks have given her the nod of approval. She is one of this town's best kept secrets if only because few local jazz stylists ever get the ink to grab a share of the relatively small audience that fancies the standards, the lyric and the robust vocalizing of a bygone era. Furthermore, her versatility might make it hard to pigeonhole her talent.

Her inspired self-penned tunes borrow from the best of the 40's big band era and 50's juke joint years, but offer her own very original grit and spunk. In Mr. Friendly, Williams croons along with vibesman, Kahlil's malleted melody. The Senders, some of LA's finest accompanists are always given ample room to show off their chops. Nowhere is this more evident than in the song, Betcha' Never Heard of Them. No matter what the song, the energy level stays right up near red line on the mood music meter.

A 4-song EP (in vinyl or CD format), which includes the aforementioned two songs, is available thru www.cdbaby.com , www.jtonerecords.com , or at any of the live shows. But the recording, under the title, Suzy and the J-Tones, is just a savory appetizer compared to the live experience.

Suzy Williams and her Solid Senders play the Temple Bar in Santa Monica on May 27, June 24, July 22, August 26 and every 4th Tuesday through November.

The Temple Bar, www.templebarlive.com , 1026 Wilshire Blvd., Santa Monica 90401

More information on Suzy Williams can be found at www.puddingbench.com/suzy.htm or www.muralista.org/suzy


Joel Okida is a struggling artist,struggling writer, and struggling musician. It occurs to him that life is all about the struggle. Fortunately, he did not take up acting. However, he's not half-bad as a zydeco dancer and the ability to make a mean gumbo and lovely walnut tortes has gotten him by.