Since she surfaced on the national jazz scene in the late '70s, Carol Fredette has earned accolades from the critics and built up a sizable cult following. With a first album, "Love Dance" (Devil Moon Productions), she is planning European and Japanese tours. But Fredette has been singing for more than a decade with such prominent big bands as Sal Salvador and Neal Hefti as well as small combos from New York to Paris.

"I was not in one place," says Fredette of her late-blooming career. "I was traveling all the time." A more likely explanation may be that she specializes in the standard American songbook of Jerome Kern and others -- who have made a vigorous comeback in recent years. Fredette will offer a program of those classic songs, along with some newer material, at the One Step Down, Friday and Saturday. Marc Cohen will be at the piano, David Finck on bass and Steve Williams at the drums.

"You can't get much better than that," says Fredette of the great American songwriters, "and we're trying to maintain it and sustain it so that it should endure because if those of us who are around don't keep it going, it's going to become extinct. It's like you've got to believe in it with your whole heart and soul. There are people out there who feel as we do for the kind of music that the world wrote when there were Kerns around and Gershwins and Cole Porters. When I go into clubs the younger people love it and they really want to hear it."