Jazz Gals Toast Billie Holiday and Peggy Lee on Friday

One of the funny things that I find about jazz is that whenever I engage in a conversation about it, 90 percent of the time the talk gravitates toward the men of jazz. Granted, there have been some heavy hitters in the world of jazz, but I feel uneasy walking away with a feeling that the jazz genre is some exclusive boys' club.

Clearly that's a load of bull when you start looking at the fantastic ladies of the scene. Icons like Ella Fitzgerald, Nina Simone, Dinah Washington, and Sarah Vaughan... those four ladies alone are unquestioned royalty.

This Friday, KCC Productions and the Sunrise Civic Center Theater are putting together a nice balance of old and new with current greats Debbie Orta and Wendy Pedersen doing renditions of classic songs by golden chanteuses Billie Holiday and Peggy Lee.

This should be a good night of evocative feelings with Pedersen's bluesy approach and Orta's more swinging style. Also of note is Orta's multimedia presentation titled "Jazz Gals," which was featured last year at Nova Southeastern University, where she proved the often overlooked magnitude of female contribution to the jazz genre.

Both women are excellent singers and students of the craft as well as sisters-in-arms of a proud jazz tradition. Backing them onstage will be Jim Gasior on piano, Chuck Bergeron on bass, Mike Harvey on drums, John Michalak on saxophone, and John Lovell on trumpet.

"Jazz Gals: Celebrating the Songs of Billie Holiday and Peggy Lee," 8 p.m. on Friday June 3, at the Sunrise Civic Center Theater, 10610 W. Oakland Park Blvd., Sunrise. Tickets cost $10 to $16. Call 954-747-4646 or visit www.sunrisefl.gov.

Debbie Orta

Wendy Pedersen

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