Local vocals: Women find harmony in whimsical trio

Members of the new all-female local trio known as "The

It was clear that the three women gathered around the piano were
having a grand time at rehearsal last Wednesday as they belted out
the tune to

Aunt Clara,

acting out the comic lyrics as they went.
“We never mention Aunt Clara;

Her picture is turned to the wall.

Though she lives on the French Riviera,

Mother says she is dead to us all.”

It was clear that the three women gathered around the piano were having a grand time at rehearsal last Wednesday as they belted out the tune to “Aunt Clara,” acting out the comic lyrics as they went.

Calling themselves “The Committee,” Candace Fazzio, Dorothy Martin, and Sandra Marlowe are South County’s newest all-female vocal trio.

“We have such a good time usually in rehearsal – honestly, it’s often the best part of being in a performance mode,” Marlowe said. “There’s so much cutting up and wisecracking and sharing that happens – it bonds you.”

The Committee has been in demand to perform for organizations and clubs privately for the past few months, but are ready to make their public debut in concert next Jan. 15.

Marlowe is a vocalist and educator who has performed classical, opera, theater and jazz throughout the state.

“Working with serious, better-than-competent musicians, who are eager to perform and who are also supportive friends makes the time fly by,” said Fazzio, founder and director of The Music Academy in Gilroy. She specializes in a Pan-American piano repertoire beginning with Ragtime.

The group formed when Marlowe and Martin got together to sing a couple of duets for the South Valley Music Makers Club, in which musicians meet in each others’ homes to collaborate and share ideas. They had a lot of fun working up the arrangements, and when Fazzio heard them, she said she could hear a third part, a trio.

“Singing with the trio fulfills a wish,” Fazzio said. “We work together well, and I get to make up more harmonies, which is a personal challenge. Plus, there’s no ‘star’ performer on The Committee. Each of us gets to take the lead.

Their music includes what is usually thought of as the great American songbook – songs known for their poetic and clever lyrics, sophisticated harmonies, and melodies written when melody was still “queen.” The group hopes to keep these classic songs alive and fresh with their own original arrangements, as well as to educate their audiences about some lesser known gems.

Marlowe, Martin and Fazzio are performing at the height of their skills.

Between them, they can boast 100 years (although they rarely admit to it) of musical education, experience, and performance.

Martin, the senior member of the group at 82, accompanies them on piano and sings. Martin used to play for the troops at Walter Reed Hospital.

“It was so fulfilling. I volunteered to play at chapel for boys who couldn’t walk – they were on gurneys,” Martin said, choking up.

Her career has included playing in the all-female band, “The Melodettes,” that rose to popular acclaim in the 1950s while working for casino magnate William Harrah in Reno and Tahoe. Numerous newspaper clippings from those days decorate a wall in her bathroom.

She and her husband founded the Saratoga Music and Fine Arts Center and operated it for 22 years. At one point, it had an enrollment of 700 students and 30 teachers. Now she gives private lessons.

“I feel so blessed to be a teacher,” Martin said. “I just love it.”

The trio gave a commanding performance recently at the home of one of their inspirations, Velzoe Brown, who turns 100 in March. Brown toured with an all-female band in the 1920s and still performs jazz piano with her quintet several times per month.

“We don’t stop being visited by the muse simply because we are getting older,” Marlowe said. “If anything, we are smarter about getting out of the way and being the channel for something good and wonderful and fun to come through.”

In concert, you can expect the trio to throw in a few unexpected tunes, things that are more contemporary but with a twist – or a wrinkle or two.

“I feel my best work is ahead,” Marlowe said. “It’s about relating to everyone else, about connecting with who’s out there.”

“Our intention is sharing a penchant for beautiful music, evoking nostalgia, bringing a smile (or creating a little mayhem) wherever we go,” Marlowe wrote in a press release announcing the concert. “It’s juicy!”

A musical meeting

What: A debut concert by The Committee, South County’s newest all-female vocal trio

When: 7 p.m. Jan. 15

Where: Gilroy United Methodist Church, corner of Fourth and Church streets

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