Interview: Chris Pinella Performs SINATRA AT THE SANDS

Chris Pinnella will perform "Sinatra at the Sands" in its entirety at the Axelrod PAC on Saturday, April 13 at 8 pm.

By: Apr. 13, 2024
Interview: Chris Pinella Performs SINATRA AT THE SANDS
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On May 14, 1998, Chris Pinnella was in his living room -- a 13-year-old boy -- when the death of Frank Sinatra, 82, was plastered all over the news. 

This was the same living room in the same beachfront home in Manasquan, New Jersey where Pinnella would watch his great-grandpa play the Chairman of the Board’s most heart-capturing hits on mandolin guitar in 1989 when he was only 4 years old: “Fly Me To the Moon,” “The Summer Wind.” 

“His career longevity is something to be admired, and that to me is something everyone in the industry should strive for,” Pinnella, now 39, told BroadwayWorld. “To have that long of a career… he’s an extraordinary guy who lived an extraordinary life. He’s like a tall tale. The scope of him and who he was and the impact that he had on the industry is everything to me. I don’t think it will ever be matched.”

While Sinatra’s long and revered career may not be matched, it has since been replicated countless times and Pinnella is the latest on the Sinatra-lovers bandwagon.

Lingering Legacy

He'll be performing Sinatra’s lauded live album, “Sinatra at the Sands” – which was accompanied by Count Basie and his orchestra, and conducted and arranged by Quincy Jones and recorded live in the Copa Room of the former Sands Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas – at the Axelrod Theater in Deal, NJ. However, Pinnella, though a self-described “old soul,” is no impersonator. He’s just a Millennial performer, now a father of three, with a profound appreciation for Sinatra’s authenticity as an introspective crooner with finesse and sophistication, a heart of gold, and depth as fathomable as the ocean. And of course, a linchpin in the swing genre.

Interview: Chris Pinella Performs SINATRA AT THE SANDS

“After shows, people think he’s an extension of their family,” says Pinnella after his performances, adding that concert-goers in the age group of the Traditionalist Generation recall memories of being a “bobby-soxer,” a passé moniker for an adolescent girl, at Madison Square Garden watching Sinatra perform, and even being in the audience at the Sands Hotel while he live-recorded “Sinatra at the Sands” in 1966 in Sin City.

“His music will endure and transcend time years from now,” said Pinnella. “He’s always going to be in kids’ lives through different stories.” 

Music was all in the family for Pinnella. His Italian father’s extended family played instruments for the RAI National Symphony Orchestra. 

When Pinella was old enough to be a real fan, he was in college immersed in musical theater at Marymount Manhattan College in the mid-2000s when his vocal coach rekindled his liking for Sinatra. He was encouraged to listen to “The Nearness of You” and take it in like Sinatra would a glass of Jack Daniel’s. The nuances and Sinatra's ability to take apart rhythms and elongate phrases to make the song more meaningful was unlike any other performer of his time, Pinnella said.Interview: Chris Pinella Performs SINATRA AT THE SANDS

“’The way that song is written…. It's not the pale moon that excites me/That thrills and delights me, oh no/It's just the nearness of you,'" Pinnella sings. "He does this wild thing [where he] pulls the pitch back up from the bottom note with his voice… a lot of people overlook that he does it. It’s one of my favorite things he does.”

Viewers will hear Pinnella enact his own version of Sinatra’s vocal gifts when he takes the stage on Saturday, April 13 at 8 pm with a 14-piece big band. He will croon some of the icon's greatest hits from the mesmerizing enchantment of “The Lady is a Tramp” to the indomitable spirit of “My Way.” In between songs, clips will be projected of the late singer cracking a joke in Rat Pack fashion.

“They know it’s that nostalgia hearing the big man play,” said Pinnella of the typical crowd his shows draw. “It takes that moment back to their parents’ living room when they were a kid.”

The Axelrod Performing Arts Center is located at 100 Grant Avenue, Deal, NJ. Tickets are $38-$58 at the button below.


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