Jerry Costanzo with Andy Farber & His Swing Mavens: Straighten Up and Fly Right

I sort of feel sorry for male crooners who are not living in the right time. The first singer who comes to mind is Jack Jones. He has an outstanding voice and style. But the poor guy was born about 10 to 20 years too late for his own talent. Jerry Costanzo may be one of those guys too. Every once in a while a male vocalist overcomes modern preferences and breaks through like Harry Connick Jr. or Michael Bublé. But that is the rare exception and is based on a lot of marketing power.

So when I listen to Jerry Costanzo singing the standards with a very good swing-like jazz band, I just assume he is a happy fellow loving what he does and is satisfied to be in a niche in which he is admired by a small and sometimes aging group.

You can't hear "Straighten Up and Fly Right" and not think of Nat King Cole. He owns the song as performer and co-writer. There is a bit of Cole in Costanzo's version. But Costanzo is not a clone of Cole, Sinatra or any of those icons. His voice is smooth but has a slight gravelly quality. As all great singers do, he tells a story. The band, led by Andy Farber, is given an extended section on the piece which evokes the period nature of the music. The band is very good.

There is no doubt in my mind that if Costanzo was living his father's, or grandfather's, life he would have a greater opportunity at fame. There is also no doubt that in front of a nostalgic audience Costanzo wows. And I believe that a more contemporary crowd would also be won over by his talent and the swinging arrangements. I can say for sure he would have me tapping the table. Costanzo is a very good singer and stylist, and that should translate from any time frame to any other despite changing tastes.

October 20, 2008 · 0 comments


Diana Krall: I'm An Errand Girl for Rhythm

Fifty years after Nat King Cole's "I'm An Errand Boy for Rhythm" sped to its appointed rounds, Diana Krall's "I'm An Errand Girl for Rhythm" relaxes the tempo slightly—still fast, but more lope than gallop. After all, errand persons were by October 1995 less hyper than in October 1945, when deliveries were fueled by World War II surplus adrenaline. Even so, for her King Cole Trio tribute album, Krall remains faithful to more than just their patented piano/guitar/bass instrumentation; she respects and reflects the spirit of that consummately cool combo and its unassumingly heroic era. Krall is ideally suited for this role. Both she and Cole were superior jazz pianists who took up singing and became vocal superstars, after which their instrumental abilities were predictably overshadowed. The limelight, after all, illuminates only so much. Which makes this track especially helpful. It will delight the many fans of Diana's singing, but will equally reward those who haven't paid much attention to Krall the pianist. Her playing here is worthy of . . . well, Nat Cole himself, and that's the highest praise a hipster born in 1945 (speaking of surplus adrenaline) can bestow. If you require an errand girl for swinging, call Ms. Krall.

February 24, 2008 · 0 comments


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