BWW Review: A TRIBUTE TO OL' BLUE EYES with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra at Strathmore
Frank Sinatra is easily considered one of the greatest singers of all time. His career spanned over fifty years and generated a body of work that has yet to be surpassed by almost any other recording artist.
The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra (BSO), under the mighty baton of Maestro Jack Everly, began a four-performance tribute to Ol' Blue Eyes last evening at The Music Center at Strathmore in Bethesda, MD. The next three performances will be held at the Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall in Baltimore, MD. The evening featured a cool, swingin' mix of songs from Sinatra's long and distinguished career and featured three strong vocalists in this great "Dooby dooby doo" program.
Right out of the box things got swinging with an orchestral arrangement of "Theme from New York, New York". From there Frankie Moreno took the stage with a Las Vegas style performance of "It Had to Be You." I was actually surprised at Moreno's appearance and moves throughout this concert. He reminded me more of Elvis Pressley with his gyrations and all black attire, but that being said, I did enjoy his vocal interpretations throughout the night. My favorite was Harold Arlen and Johnny Mercer's "One for My Baby" which featured BSO pianist Lura Johnson.
Tony Desare kept things high with his cool crooner sound. His vocal highlights included "Something's Gotta Give" and "It Was a Very Good Year." The latter utilized the original Gordon Jenkins orchestration and featured BSO oboist Melissa Hooper on the signature solos.
By far the true vocal highlights of the evening came from songstress/composer/vocal goddess Ann Hampton Callaway. She accompanied herself on piano for a sassier and less torchy arrangement of Arlen and Mercer's "Blues in the Night." She then held the audience in the palm of her hand with a haunting rendition of Irving Berlin's "How Deep is the Ocean."
A few other highlights included Moreno and Desare's terrific four-handed dueling piano performance of "All of Me" and a killer medley entitled "Frank and the Pack" featuring all three vocalists. The latter was arranged and orchestrated by Fred Barton, Desare, and Ted Firth.
Jack Everly arranged a piece for the BSO called "Overture for High Rollers," which took us on a musical journey down the famed Las Vegas strip. It gave the orchestra's brass section a chance to really go to town.
Sinatra's kind of music is dependent on a strong rhythm section to carry the groove. In this case, that task was met in spades with Lura Johnson on piano, Mike Pope on bass, Scott Kuney on guitar, and Steve Hannel on drums.
Many of the arrangements also feature a screaming lead trumpet part and BSO Assistant Principal trumpeter René Hernandez flat out nailed everything. That doesn't happen very often with symphonic musicians. Well done!!
All in all, if you go to the remaining performances in Baltimore this weekend, the BSO's Tribute to Ol'Blue Eyes will get you remembering - and probably yearning for - a simpler time when singers like Frank Sinatra reigned supreme. It's hard to believe he's been gone for almost nineteen years already. Maestro Everly. the BSO, Callaway, Desare, and Moreno do a fine job of paying tribute to the Chairman of the Board with a program that is perfect in selection and vocal and orchestral execution from start to finish.
Running Time: One hour and 55 minutes with one intermission.
A Tribute to Ol' Blue Eyes was a one night engagement at the Music Center at Strathmore on January 26, 2017. The concert will be performed tonight (January 27) through January 29, 2017 at Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall, which is located at 1212 Cathedral St, Baltimore, MD.
For tickets to this and other upcoming events with the BSO, click here.
For upcoming events at Strathmore, click here.