Some of the criteria would be: Quality of repertoire (standards as opposed to pop songs), vocal quality, great versions of recorded tunes, duration of career, and impact of recorded legacy. With that being the case,How could the answer not be Frank Sinatra?
It is doubtful that one can name any recording artist that has had more imitators than Sinatra. He sang with orchestras, big bands, and smaller groups, all with excellence.He was also, not just a recording artist. He had almost no competition in a concert hall. He usually sounded as good, live, as he did in the studio. Difficult for most. Not for Sinatra. Tremendous!
Who are your musical influences?
I have been greatly influencedby manyvocalists and band leaders/arrangers from an early age. In no particular order here are ones that readily come to mind: Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Buddy Greco, Henry Mancini, Jack Jones, Vic Damone, Tom Jones, Bing Crosby, Engelbert Humperdinck, Tony Bennett, Elvis Presley, Sammy Davis Jr, Count Basie, Mel Tormé, Connie Francis, Bobby Darin, Dion DiMucci, Paul Anka and probably more.
In recent years I have also taken a special liking to Lalo Schifrin, Johnny Mandel and Neal Hefti.
What is the difference between your act and other entertainers that perform this kind of music?
I think among other things, the vast majority of singers that "do" Rat Pack material are essentially karaoke singers. Their background and experience comes from singing to background tracks (note-for-note transcriptions) of the recorded songs of Frank and Dean. If they in-fact have a rare opportunity to sing with live musicians, they do what they do best, which is to sing as if singing along with a record. That is where things often go awry. There is an enormous difference between singing with a band (that is not playing like the musicians on the records) and copying Sinatra's phrasing to a replicate one of his arrangements. He's singing one thing, they are playing another. It doesn't mesh. It is amateur. Whether a listener likes my style or voice, I sing with a live band and will perform the songs slightly or radically different each time. That's the way it always was until background tracks came into popularity. I started out singing a few songs with bands, when I was given the rare opportunity. I had no knowledge of key signature, so when I called "Can't Help Falling In Love" (the Elvis number) and the keyboardist asked me the key, I would amateurishly start singing, in hope he would accurately play it in Elvis' key. At times, the song would be intentionally put into a key that better accomodated (easier to play) the band but that left me figuratively, standing on my tiptoes attempting to hit notes that were just out of my range (as well as Elvis' range). I then had a stint singing at several karaoke bars. I even ran one, three nights a week. The real experience came from immersing myself with piano players and piano trios, which I did for several years before emabrking on my own.
Difference? There are good band singers and there are guys with decent voices that sing karaoke. They are not the same. The karaoke singers sound like...well, a guy at a karaoke bar. There are some solid band singers out there though. These singers have an original vocal sound, unique phrasing, great time, and can handle adversity; they are few, though.
With whom have I worked? Name dropping?
Over the last 25 years I have had the privilege to make music across the country (but especially in Chicago) with some of the best musicians in the business. I'm talking piano players, guitarists, bass players, drummers and brass and reed players. Here are a few:
Frank Caruso, Joe Vito, Johnny Frigo, Nick Schneider, Eric Gunnison, Larry Novak, Rusty Jones, Dan McIntyre, Jeremy Kahn, Eric Schneider, Vinnie Cutro, Frank Portolese, Andy Brown, Dennis Carroll, Mike Mechem, George Fludas, Greg Rockingham, Doug Scharf, Art Davis, Dana Hall, Jim Cox, Bob Rummage, Steve Little, Larry Kohut, Ben Paterson, Art Hoyle, John Whitfield, Ken Seiffert, Bobby Lewis, Dennis Luxion, Ernie Adams, Bobby Schiff, Jackie Warren, Jo Ann Daugherty, Tito Carrillo, Jim Cooper, Danny Barber, Larry Harris, Mike Allemana, Phil Gratteau, Russ Phillips, Carlo Uboldi, Tom Bruner, Tom Vaitsas, Jim Ryan, Mark Davis, Jim Rupp, Jeff Hamann, Eric Jacobson, Don Stille, Calvin Hill, Danny DeMorales, Mark Sonksen, Kevin Fort, Rick Frigo, Les Kurtz, Buddy Charles, Chuck Christensen, Victor Gomez, Antonio Cervellino, Rich Corpolongo, Laury Shelley, Jim Mola, Jack D'Amico, Marie Alexander, Milt Trenier, Danny DeMorales
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