Marty and Elayne at the Dresden, Los Angeles, 2009

(Los Angeles) -- The term "lounge act" gets used and abused, but how many true lounge acts are out there anymore? The hotel chains don't book live entertainment the way they used to, and if you're lucky, you'll get a piano player. But even those are going the way of the dodo.

Everyone here in L.A. already knows about this hidden treasure, but for a visiting New Yorker, Marty and Elayne at the Dresden provide an eye-opening experience. They've been at it for decades, and their material is time tested, from "Summertime" to "I'll Remember April," from "Whatever Lola Wants" to "Come Fly With Me." The sound is a bit odd -- the sound system is strictly from hunger, and the upright bassist maintains a low, rumbling murmur.

But the spirit is there, in spades. Marty croons the night away, and the stage patter comes naturally: "Give us your requests. If we don't get requests, we'll just play jazz, and then everybody goes home early."

Elayne plays bebop-derived phrases at the piano, then startles you when she leaps up to the Yamaha DX7 and throws herself into a synthesized guitar solo. She also doubles on flute.

Are they kidding us? Is this all a huge put-on? No, and no. They have done this gig thousands of times, six nights a week. Who else maintains that kind of schedule?

The crowd is young and hip and pretty. A group at the bar says they're from Vancouver, and they want to hear some Hank Williams. Marty: "Did Hank Williams write 'Make the World Go Away"? No? It must have been Boris Karloff..."

Next, a request for "Stardust," which Marty and Elayne turned into a Hoagy Carmichael medly with "The Nearness of You."

I just happened to be there one of the thousands of times that they have swung into "The Summer Wind." And you may have to live through a version of "My Way." That might be a good time to get a drink. Marty and Elayne get terrible reviews in the local press. The L.A. Weekly took a shot at them just the other day.

But if you want to see some sincere practicioners of a dying art, you get to do it, every night of the week except Sunday, for no cover charge, at the Dresden on Vermont Avenue. They don't make them like Marty and Elayne anymore.

P.S., save the date -- Thursday, Dec. 10, at 9 p.m., the Jim Duffy Combo at the Lakeside Lounge, 162 Ave. B in Manhattan.

[Edit: In the original post, I forgot to include the date. Ay, carumba.]

More soon,

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