I spent last weekend in LA…

It was a harried three days of LA traffic (I hate “the 405”), great food and wonderful music.

‘Nough said about the traffic — still trying to forget the two hours I spent driving from LAX to Hollywood — and I’ll chat up the great meals we partook on a DwTRP post later this week, but the music … man, the music was amazing.

After an unforgettable dinner at Il Pastaio — the first of two excellent Robert Davi restaurant recommendations — we hit the Bar Nineteen 12 at the Beverly Hills Hotel to catch Luca Ellis at his regular Thursday night gig.

Bar Nineteen 12 is a classic top drawer hotel bar, beautifully appointed and in this case set up quite well for a live music act.  Luca was, in a word … impressive.

The first hour or so of his three+ hour set was perfect … just enough bar bustle to let you know where your were but Luca and his very talented trio easily commanded the ambiance of the club.

It ended up being a tough room…

As the night wore on, the 90210 set gathered for an engagement party next door and spilled over into the bar — raising the ambient noise level — but Mr. E just played off the energy of the room and kept delivering the goods with number after number of classic standards.

Cherry picking the extensive set list for favorites is kinda crazy — it was all great stuff — but about three songs into the set Luca did a very cool blues tempo version of “It’s Alright With Me” (a Cole Porter classic). Then he followed with a swing’n interpretation of “Surrey With The Fringe On Top” from Oklahoma!  … a song that always tugs my heart strings as I remember my dad singing me to sleep with it when I was just a tot. My god, this kid can sing!

Other highlights from the “three hours with Luca” show … great guitar soli drove excellent LE styled renditions of Rat Pack classics “You Make Me Feel So Young” and “Just In Time”  … just a superb version of Sinatra’s iconic saloon/torch number “Angel Eyes” and the sweet, painful “war separation” number “We’ll Meet Again”.

Sorry if I seemed distracted…

Brad “Martini” Chambers and the always lovely Miriam Garfield (of Martiniinthemorning.com fame) made the scene and I stopped over to say hello. I don’t think I actually heard the first three minutes of our confab because LE kicked off another VS personal favorite — “I Wish You Love” — just as we finished introductions.

I consider this number Luca’s signature song … “I Wish You Love” plays when you first land on his website and he knocks it out of the park. Go right now (yes now) to Luca’s website and give it a listen … hey, this isn’t optional!

THE best unrecorded Standards singer today…

The fact that you have to hit Lucaellis.com to listen to his music is just not right. Nothing wrong with LE’s site, but how this guy has not been signed to a record deal is just crazy. All the “Frank imitator” crap is just that … crap. Yes the kid got his start imitating Frank in Sandy Hackett’s Rat Pack Show but that doesn’t change the fact that Luca is an amazing talent.

LE is saddled with the same Sinatra imitator type cast (crap) that afflicted Harry Connick Jr. and Michael Bublé, but hearing Luca live last week was an eye opener for me. Though LE certainly paid homage to Sinatra — especially on the classic “Frank numbers” like “New York, New York” —  the LE style was there in spades.

I think there’s a studio in here that might work! 😉

Now if we can just get a record label to “listen past” their freakish anti-Sinatra imitator bias and really take in Luca Ellis … then maybe I could simply dial up some Luca from my library! Hell, I’d cough up $9.99 in a heartbeat if someone would just grab 10 or 12 of the tracks on Luca’s website and offer them as a digital download LP!

Do yourself a favor…

If you’re in the LA area, make the sojourn to see Luca at the Bar Nineteen 12 on Thursday’s (starts at 9pm) — if you’re around this week you can also catch his last poolside gig for the Summer ’12 at the Beverly Hills Hotel this Friday from 6-8pm.

If you’re not going to be in LA anytime soon, then at least stop by LucaEllis.com for a listen. I’ll bet the drinks I owe Brad “Martini” Chambers (thanks again!) that you’ll agree this guy is too good to not see his music listed at Amazon and iTunes. Somebody out there needs to make it happen!