The Emerging Stars Performing the Vocal Standards

Silver Bells - Jonny BluThe young voices are busy…

…this holiday season.

As we settle into Christmas eve there are a few live performance updates and some VS news worth noting.

The Fresh Face gang is particularly active this season and the pace picked up yesterday with Jonny Blu’s release of his holiday single — “Silver Bells”.

Similar in style to the material in his recent The Ukelele Experience, Vol. One album release, Jonny brings a lilting, quieter vibe to the Christmas table with “Silver Bells”.

It’s good stuff … not up to his stellar  2011 Christmas release — “Holiday for Two” — but still worth folding in amongst the swing’n numbers and traditional fare on your holiday playlist.

Give it a listen and then head over to Jonny’s ReverbNation download site for a free download.

“Silver Bells” – Jonny Blu*

Then on the live performance front… [Read more…]


Christmas at Our House - Dale CornA couple of weeks back…

…while lamenting the dearth of good holiday releases this year, I mentioned Dale Corn’s Christmas at Our House (EP) as one of the exceptions to this season’s underwhelming holiday music rollout.

At just three tracks, we only receive a taste of holiday interpretations under the tree from young Mr. Corn, but it’s well worth snaring if your holiday palate leans toward swing’n, big band fare.

No stranger to the dance halls and jazz club club circuit along the mid Atlantic Seaboard, Dale conducts a very fine 17 piece big band that he also fronts with his dulcet, clarinet-resonant vocals … a voice different from the bromidic crooner style and one I find very agreeable. [Read more…]


© James W. Thompson

Life and Art…

…it’s all the same thing to Luca Ellis.

In Part 1 of  my Conversation with Luca Ellis we focused on where Luca is today and what is coming on the horizon for him in the near future.

We go back to the beginning in Part 2 and discuss how and where Luca got his start in the music business, and how that start influenced his view toward performing for an audience, and and to some degree, his “organic” life philosophy.

During his performances, Luca shows great deference to the artists that precede him, and to the composers and songwriters of the Great American Songbook.

In Part 2 we also discuss in some detail how important it is for Luca to pay tribute to the great talents that paved the way for him to sing the great music that has become his passion.

It’s a fun view inside Luca Ellis and his take on the performing life he’s chosen. [Read more…]


Back in August…

…I went to LA to see Luca Ellis perform.

Dinner that night at Il Pastaio was crazy good; Bar Nineteen 12 at the Beverley Hills Hotel was classy, cool and Luca’s performance was awesome (full VS review here).

All in all it was a great trip … the only thing that didn’t go right was Luca and my plan to sit down for a face-to-face interview.

We rectified that missed opportunity with a phone interview a couple of weeks later. While not as fun as chatting in person, we got on great and actually spent about 90 minutes on the phone covering a wide range of topics.

It was all on the table…

Everything from Luca’s upcoming gig in the Christmas My Way show at the El Portal Theatre next month, to his other stage gigs, his start in the business, deep appreciation for the music and the writers of the Great American Song Book … even how Luca’s life philosophy of taking things as they come impacts his performance planning and execution.

Interesting stuff…

…and lots of it. With that in mind I’m breaking the interview into two (possibly three) topical segments to accommodate a more reasonable web consumption experience.

Part 1 is focused on Luca’s brief but very influential musical stage career that included stints in Louis and Keely: Live at the Sahara, Sandy Hackett’s The Rat Pack Show in Vegas, and ultimately a show Luca conceived, wrote and headlined in — Hoboken to Hollywood … all leading to Christmas My Way which is running the last two weeks of December at the El Portal in North Hollywood.

So without further ado … [Read more…]


Like Moses …

…Robert Davi is leaving the desert!

I’m not sure LA qualifies as the promised land, but after four sell-out shows out in the dunes — three at the Venetian Showroom in Vegas and one at Soboba Casino out Palm Springs way — Mr. Davi and his fabulous six piece stage band are headed to Vibrato Grill for a single show on December 12.

I caught Robert both with his full stage band at the Venetian (review here), and with his sextet touring band at Soboba (here).

Not only is there no drop off on the music side of the equation with the six piece combo, but RD’s performance seems to arrive on a more intimate level with the smaller stage band … I think I like it even more so than the big studio crew — at least for a live gig setup like Vibrato.

Do NOT miss this show if you’re in or around LA the second week of December!

Damn … between this gig and Luca Ellis’ Christmas My Way show at the El Portal, I gotta find my way to LA in December!


While panning for gold…

… last week in the ever flowing musical river that is internet radio, I didn’t find single a nugget … but I did turn up a jewel — Cheryl Jewell.

OK, enough with the wordplay. Before I overreach with “a diamond in the rough” (or worse) let’s get into My Blue Heaven — yet another excellent album release from a new-to-me Fresh Face artist.

A summer of discovery…

I’m constantly amazed by the breadth of quality  artists that make up the Fresh Face class of emerging American Songbook stars. It seems that a week doesn’t go by that I don’t hear someone on the radio that sends me scrambling for a pen to jot down their name.

Just this summer it started with Luca Ellis, Anna Mjöll and Louis Prima Jr. … and of late there’s been Susan Chastain, Megan Hilty and now the round, soulful and evocative vocal stylings of Ms. Jewell. [Read more…]


I crawl the aether webs daily…

…scanning the “all things Sinatra” stacks as one of the ways to sniff out salient VocalStandards news, story ideas and tidbits.

About a month ago, I saw a promo for “An Evening with Susan Chastain: Susan Sings Sinatra!” … a gig that that was set for Ann Arbor on August 4.

Well, it’s been a crazy, busy few weeks since then with the trip to LA to see Luca Ellis and Mr. Davi, but I figure anyone that sells out a gig promising the following is certainly worth a look (from the Kerrytown Concert House promo):

“Susan Chastain returns to Ann Arbor for an evening of classic Frank Sinatra tunes, covering the hits he recorded throughout his career, and telling his story. …” [Read more…]


Last Saturday…

…at the Soboba Casino in San Jacinto CA., I caught the second leg of the “Davi in the Desert” tour.

OK, there’s no official “Davi in the Desert” tour, but Robert Davi followed his sold out, three show Vegas debut at the Venetian Showroom back in February (review here) with another amazing performance in the hot, hot desert east of LA.

Much the same and completely different…

Though the setlist was similar to the Venetian gig, and RD brought the same passion and performance flare to the stage at Soboba that he delivered in Vegas, “Davi in the Desert part 2” had a completely different feel to it.

More than just the difference in venue, the motif and style of the event was more “close-in” … more intimate and the resulting show felt like a different experience. [Read more…]