Centuries hence, when an ambitious music scholar needs a chapter heading for the 20th century, "Age of Song" will be the rubric of choice. Sure, you can tally an impressive list of our era's great symphonies, concertos, oratorios, string quartets, and so on, but those hundred or so pieces are vastly outnumbered by legions of great songs that will stand the test of time. Decade after decade, from parlor-room ditties to the blues, through jazz, swing, and every permutation of rock, great songs abound.

This is no surprise: Songs are usually easier to learn than a 20-minute piano concerto, and more likely to be performed live as well as disseminated on radio and records. Unlike a new symphony, which gets played once and disappears, songwriters stand a slight chance of making money from their art.

Songs are also a convenient springboard for improvisation. In the 1950s, great jazz singers like Ella Fitzgerald sang what is now called the Great American Songbook--tunes by George and Ira Gershwin, Duke Ellington, Cole Porter, Irving Berlin, and a dozen or so other songwriters who flowered in the first half of the 20th century.

Singer Dee Daniels, whose four-octave range, elegant phrasing, and daredevil vocal pyrotechnics floored me at last December's Seattle Repertory Jazz Orchestra concert, rejoins this fine outfit for a concert titled "The Great American Songbook." Loaded with local all-stars, the SRJO are deft accompanists and will abet Daniels on great standards like "Don't Get Around Much Anymore," "I've Got You Under My Skin," and "Blue Skies." Not to be missed. CHRISTOPHER DeLAURENTI

The Seattle Repertory Jazz Orchestra with Dee Daniels perform Sat Mar 1 (Recital Hall at Benaroya, Third and Union, 523-6159) at 7:30 pm and Sun Mar 2 (Kirkland Performance Center, 350 Kirkland Ave, Kirkland, 523-6159) at 3 pm, $15-$31.

chris@delaurenti.net

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