Because I’m knee deep in memorizing Sinatra tunes and his every subtle nuance I failed miserably at uploading the podcast from our Sherry event. Really, a very thorough and engaging dialogue with Kerin Auth of Tinto Fino, Mayur Subbarao of EVOE, El Cobre, Cienfuegos, etc., and Christine Wells of the French Culinary Institute.
SHERRY INTROS (2:53)
KERIN AUTH of TINTO FINO (5:21)
MORE FROM KERIN (5:24)
KERIN, MAYUR, CHRISTINE (6:40)
DIARY: SINATRA SIMULACRA – 3/30.
So, 17 days into preparing for Sinatra Simulacra, I’ve not blogged once, as promised. So it goes. Better late than never, someone always says. Okay.
I’m growing concerned that my wildly attentive audience is confused about this particular event, and so I hope to set the record straight right now. This is not going to be some cheap, ho-hum imitation or impersonation of Frank Sinatra. I’ve got one of the bright starts of the composing and arranging business, Mr. Daniel Barnidge, working out new renditions to the following songs, which will be performed by yours truly with a magnificent group of seven very talented musicians:
- I’ve Got You Under My Skin
- Day In, Day Out
- I’ve Got a Crush On You
- Fly Me to the Moon
- You’re Nobody Until Somebody Loves You
- Luck Be a Lady
- That Lucky Old Sun
- One For My Baby
- That’s Life
- Angel Eyes
It’s no easy task, working to emulate, working to revive the energy and perfect performance of such a well-known artist. Frank Sinatra became a phenomenon that generations will have a hard time comprehending in the future because at the pace were going the future is going to be devoid of his kind of entertainer. A controversial figure, a contradicting figure, with enough rumors about his life, habits, run-ins, to fill billions of pages of books and still have room for more. The question I posit to myself is: How did one man achieve such a legacy? And my answer: Well, simply put, and as I believe Sinatra might suggest, there is no other explanation than to say that his celebrity occurred at such a unique time and place – historically and contextually – and he had a rare gift, which received the right attention at the right times and the right places.
There’s no question that The Voice, as he is often referred to, was brilliant in it’s own right: What Sinatra did, that not even Crosby was doing, was talking to his audience; speaking to them through the songs he sang. When you watch some of the marvelous videos that have surfaced on YouTube, if attention is paid to Frank’s expression and focus, not only is he very naturally acting out the scenarios in the songs he sings, but he embodies the character of the person singing – embodies the subject of what they are singing – and does it so well that it’s almost as if he isn’t singing at all, but simply speaking the lyrics. (And Sinatra grew up listening to Crosby who was the king of crooning at the time. Early in his career, Sinatra worked to emulate Crosby before Frank’s own status as a crooner and own voice began to evolve into the mature voice so well known from recordings like “New York, New York,” “My Way,” “I’ve Got You Under My Skin,” etc).
This skill (speak-singing I’ll call it) was what separated him from every other performer, and still does to this day. He focused the sounds, vowels and consonants, right into the front of his face, through his nose, vibrating in his cheeks and jawbones, never singing in falsetto voice (save for a few recordings in his early, early days with Harry James) but maintaining his mid-range and singing songs as if his speaking voice was merely stretching the vowels and consonants, elongating them melodically and rhythmically. Reinforced with impeccable breath control, able to sing through many bars of music before taking a breath, and paying careful attention when to breath, his singing developed into a style so satisfying to listen to that all he had to do was stand up on stage and…sing. He didn’t need to do anything else. His show was his Voice.
And this is my challenge. As Jonny Cigar, I’m used to flailing about the stage, throwing myself down into the gutter, into the depths of my own despair and climbing out with one hell of an army of bells and whistles. I’ve got to channel all that now into subtle hand-gestures and let my body find the natural rhythm of the music, let it respond naturally to it as well. I’ve got to focus my gaze and I’ve got to speak-sing with an orchestra backing me up – I have to be tuned into the orchestra and so comfortable with everything happening that I can also be open to the spontaneity of a show with a crowd fueled by cocktails and ready to be impressed. I’m not going to try to “become” Sinatra, because for Christ’s sake that’s ridiculous, and Christ would agree. I’m going to put into practice the very elements that made him the artist he was, and in theory I ought to come out on top, if I can pull it off.
So, a rigorous voice-training has commenced. 30 minutes of vocalizing everyday followed by a couple hours of singing the songs and getting into the subtext of the lyrics. I’ve got to know what I’m saying in order to sing and convey the emotion. It’s no different than memorizing a monologue and performing it: an audience can tell if you’ve done your homework or not.
This seems like a good place to conclude for today… I hope that this attention to detail indicates that Sinatra Simulacra is going to be more than just another night out on the town, more than just another show. Without getting too hokey, the evening is intended to transport the audience back in time to an era devoid of instantaneous gratification and where entertainers relied on their talents to impress an audience. The style of performance that saw Sinatra’s hey-day is gone, replaced by the world’s 6.7 billion-person 15-minutes-of-fame-ridden atmosphere. For one night, I’m bringing it back and you’re gonna love it, like nobody’s loved it, come rain or come shine…
Like I’ve been saying, if you’d never seen Sinatra live, this’ll be your last chance. Grab a spot: http://eepurl.com/c6OJQ