"My big line is, 'I've worked with everyone but Pavarotti,' " says pianist Lou Levy. And he isn't exaggerating.

In the late '40s, he played with Woody Herman at the National Theatre. In 1959, he played piano for Peggy Lee in the Shoreham Hotel's main room while comedian Mark Russell worked the lounge. And the last time Levy visited Washington, in May, he accompanied Frank Sinatra at the Capitol Centre. He's also performed with Tommy Dorsey, Benny Goodman, Ella Fitzgerald, Lena Horne, Sarah Vaughan and Tony Bennett.

Pinky Winters can't name names like that. She began as a child prote'ge', playing the piano "until she couldn't stand it any longer" before switching to singing. She recorded two albums but put a budding career on hold to become a housewife and mother. Then, almost three decades later, in 1979, a friend asked a fateful question: "Do you want to sing with my band?"

Of course, her answer was yes, and when a San Francisco deejay heard Winters and Levy perform together he got them to record "Let's Be Buddies," Winters' first album in almost 30 years and a project that cemented her relationship with Levy.

Wednesday night, Winters and Levy kick off a two-week engagement at Cate's Restaurant in Alexandria, where they will play music of the Gershwins, Cole Porter, Irving Berlin and Johnny Mercer.

"You can't find any music better," says Levy.

For more information, call 549-4460.