As far as Jonathan Poretz knows, Frank Sinatra and Bobby Darin never performed together.
It was a lost opportunity for both singers, as well as for their legions of fans. It's one that Poretz corrects with loving vengeance in "Sex, Swagger and Swing: Sinatra vs. Darin in the Concert That Never Was," coming to the 142 Throckmorton Theatre in Mill Valley on March 30.
Sinatra clearly influenced Darin, as well as a host of other pop and jazz stars of the 1960s. The "Chairman of the Board" acknowledged the younger singer's talent, but the two never appeared on the same bill until Poretz put them together in a dazzling tribute act backed by the Fil Lorenz Sextet. An outgrowth of Sandy Hackett's Rat Pack show that filled Marines Memorial Theater a few years ago, "Sex, Swagger and Swing" illuminates the connections between "Fly Me to the Moon" and "Beyond the Sea" in an upbeat and quick-paced production very much in the Las Vegas style — right down to the band's matching black suits and the singer's perfectly coifed 'do, immaculately tailored tuxedo and polished onstage persona.
The sextet — pianist/musical director Richard Nelson Hall, trumpeter Mike Olmos, trombonist and Marin resident John Gove, drummer Kent Bryson, bassist Mike Bordelon and saxophonist/bandleader Lorenz — performs authentic big band arrangements, managing to be more imposing than their number might imply. An energetic and compelling showman, Poretz throws in snippets of Sinatra's between-song patter, omitting some of the now politically incorrect material, such as a joke that Sammy Davis, Jr. had to enter the hotel through the kitchen door.
Despite what contemporary listeners might presume about Sinatra from some of this — and from his well-documented mob connections — he "did more than anyone to break down racial barriers in Las Vegas," Poretz says. "He fought for ethnicities."
A scrappy kid from the mean streets of Hoboken, N.J., Sinatra broke through with a new kind of masculine American song styling that packed enormous appeal for female music fans. "Guys at the time favored Bing Crosby," Poretz asserts, "But women loved Sinatra." They swooned for him they way they had earlier for Enrico Caruso, and later, for Elvis Presley and the Beatles.
Poretz's re-creation of the two singers and the period they spanned is convincing and uncanny, given that he doesn't look like either of them. "The audience wants to believe," he says, "They connect the dots and make the magic happen."
A native of Queens, NY, the former NBC analyst experimented with local theater, leading to a discovery that his real talent was as a singer. He found his "inner Sinatra" only after much intentional effort not to sound like him. Poretz rehearses daily and has performed at Yoshi's jazz clubs in San Francisco and Oakland, and has been a regular at San Francisco's Razz Room — "six to nine shows per year," he says — in addition to singing standards every other Wednesday night at Osteria Divino in Sausalito.
Despite a playlist that can stretch to 120 minutes "if the audience wants it and the house permits it," Poretz's show has an improvisational quality that keeps it feeling fresh. He finds the back-and-forth interaction with the audience "gratifying," and leverages what he calls "Tom Brady audibles" to cue the band to the next song. He's quick to credit much of his personal success and the show's often packed houses to his fellow Rat Pack alums Hall and Lorenz.
Among his most dedicated fans are his 85-year-old father, Marin resident Art Poretz, and 87-year-old Elena Griffing, who after 65 years on the job still works four days a week at Berkeley's Alta Bates Hospital. The senior Poretz and Griffing may be typical of the core audience for the music of Sinatra and Darin, but Jonathan insists that "Sex, Swagger and Swing" attracts a younger crowd, too — one eager to discover the great music of a bygone era.
Black Olive Jazz
Jonathan Poretz's newest offering, "Sex, Swagger and Swing", is a tightly arranged, expertly narrated, and beautifully sung tribute to two of the vocal masters of his youth, Frank Sinatra and Bobby Darin.
Last night, I was a rhapsodic member of a sold out crowd at Lucy Mercer's Throckmorton Theater in MillValley. The audience was mesmerized by Poretz's ability to capture the charm of Sinatra with spot on pitch and timbre; and then swing into a Darin tune, with equal musical excellence. With a swagger and professionalism unrivaled by any contemporary artist I have seen in this genre, Poretz transitions smoothly, sans script, from story to song, without missing a beat, figuratively or musically.
Note for note, the arrangements by Fil Lorenz, were expertly played by first class musicians, featuring Richard Nelson Hall, Mike Bordelon, Kent Bryson, John Gove and Dave Scott, sounding more like a big band than a six piece ensemble. Thrilling the crowd, Poretz soared through the traditional Sinatra favorites, like "My Way", "I've Got You Under My Skin", and Darin's "Beyond the Sea" and "Mac the Knife."But equally exciting were his side trips into the lesser known Sinatra tunes, like his politically incorrect version of "Old MacDonald"; and tunes that I recall from my own childhood, listening to AM radio: Darin's "Artificial Flowers" and "Clementine." Believe me, I know those tunes, and he recreated them to perfection, word for word and beat to beat. Dynamics ranged from a gorgeously intimate version of Sinatra's "Angel Eyes" to a rockin' recreation of Darin's kitsch hit "Splish Splash".
Poretz cleverly divided the songs by category: The Battle of Unforgettable Songs from Forgettable Movies like "The Shadow of Your Smile" from "The Sandpiper" vs. "More", the title from "Mondo Cane" and The Battle of the Same Song Done Differently, featuring "That;s All", done as a ballad and then with a hard swinging latin groove complete with scatting. To the listeners' great regret, the excellent show came to an end with The Battle of the Finales featuring " New York, New York" vs. Darin's closer, "The Curtain Falls" to a standing ovation.
Poretz is consummate performer, interpreter, entertainer. Don't miss him.
Kay Kostopoulos Stanford University Department of Theatre and Performing Arts Graduate School of Business www.blackolivejazz.com
SWINGING SINATRA STYLE: An Interview with Jazz Crooner Jonathan Poretz - by Joanne Olivieri
The first time I saw Jonathan Poretz perform, I was sitting in the dimly-lit lounge at Shanghai 1930, sipping a cocktail and completely dazzled by his stage presence. He's got the voice, and knows how to take command of the stage. So many vocalists will just stand there and sing; Jonathan entertains and electrifies crowds. He's a hip crooner with an old soul, and his passion for his craft shines through each and every performance. I left that evening feeling as if I had seen a Vegas show. It doesn't matter where he performs; his presence sets the tone for an unforgettable concert. As a prelude to his upcoming debut at Yoshi's in San Francisco on August 19, Jonathan was gracious enough to grant me an interview, which I hope will give you some insight into the entertainer and the man.
It's been said that you were born with a microphone in hand. When did you first realize you wanted to be a singer?
I've been singing since I was in the crib; or possibly in the womb. My mom and dad always had music on. My mom, Florrie, was a big time Frank Sinatra fan -- a second wave bobbysoxer. My father, Art, liked Frank as well, but probably is more of a Mel Torme kind of guy. Of course my brother and I grew up with The Beatles and had our share of rock bands. But I eventually came back to the music I first heard as a baby.
Who primarily was your biggest musical influence, and why?
I have many influences, from Bobby Darin and Tony Bennett to Ella and Sarah Vaughn. It's hard not to listen to someone you admire and pick up some of their style or approach. My two greatest influences are probably Frank Sinatra for his approach to a song and his amazing phrasing, and Mel Torme, whose control, rhythm and scatting ability is unparalleled. I was lucky enough to have seen Sinatra perform live on four occasions. And I was in the audience for Torme at least a dozen times. I miss them both terribly.
Tell us a little about the early days growing up in New York and your teenage years performing with some of the best in the business.
Forget Adam Sandler... I was the wedding singer. Actually, I was hired by the Buddy Brooks Orchestra at age 15 to sing the pop songs (and play guitar) at weddings and bar mitzvahs in a place called Ripples in Whitestone, Queens. The band invariably had old time jazz greats who needed gigs -- from Charlie Shaver and Snooky Young on trumpet to Chuck Wayne and Joe Puma on guitar. I was surrounded by great music and great artists. It was the best schooling in jazz and the standards anyone could wish for.
You had a brief stint as a "rocker" back in the day. What made you choose jazz over rock n roll?
I loved singing rock and pop songs and in many ways it's helped me become a dynamic performer on stage. But the move to jazz and the standards was really a function of maturing. I truly believe that everyone will eventually find these wonderful songs, whether they hear them sung by jazz or pop artists. The songs, written during an amazing era in our country's musical history, are true reflections of who we are and how we live and feel. We all go through the trials and tribulations of life (marriage, children, birth, death, breakup). It's nice to find songs that intelligently articulate those feelings for you. At least that's what they do for me. When I perform them, I'm simply sharing how I feel with the audience through the songs.
Touring with the Rat Pack as Frank Sinatra for the past several years must have been an exciting journey for you. I know that you are often compared to Ol' Blue Eyes. Does that help or hurt your stage performances?
I never saw myself as a Sinatra impressionist and in fact, when someone suggested I try out for the show, I laughed and said, "I could never do that." But I did and the experience of playing Frank has definitely made me a better singer. In order to portray him, I read all about what made him tick and studied his every musical nuance through his live and recorded performance. When I perform as myself, I'm sure I'm channeling a little bit of Frank. At least I would hope so, because he was the best there ever was!
Is it a difficult transition after portraying Sinatra to take the stage as Jonathan Poretz?
Guess I answered that one on the last question. I always feel I'm me, whether I'm dressed up as Frank for the "Rat Pack is Back" show, or on stage at one of my own engagements. I love to perform in front of an audience, small or large. It's just who I am.
Your CD "A Lot of Livin' to Do" boasts 11 tunes from the great American songbook. What was your process in choosing these particular songs for your CD?
Picking 11 songs from the Great American Songbook is nearly impossible. For me, it was a combination of songs I'd worked up and had arrangements for that were fresh. But when I think back to the genesis of the recording, I was in a restaurant in Carmel, not far from the Monterey Jazz Festival. I pulled out a napkin and scribbled down songs that when connected told a story of the many facets of love and living. Sinatra used to do something like that. First he wrote down the songs. He then cut them out of paper and painstakingly arranged them in an order that made lyrical and emotional sense to him. My feeling is if it was good enough for Frank...
The song "I See Your Face Before Me" is very special to you. Can you tell us why?
On the liner notes for my CD, I dedicated this song to my mother, Florrie. She died in 1995, before the birth of her first grandchild and before I returned to music after a long layoff. Although the song is about another type of love, I found it comforting to listen to Frank's version of this song, after my mom passed. Now when I sing it in concert, I'm singing to her and I know she hears it.
The heavy hitters backing you on this CD with Lee Bloom, Noel Jewkes, Harold Jones, Vince Lateano, Jeff Neighbor and Pierre Josephs are a "who's who" of jazz greats in their own right. Can you share with us your reasons for choosing these players?
Quite simply, they're the best. A few years ago I heard Lee Bloom backing another singer and knew right away that he had the chops and lyrical sensibility to be my accompanist. We're usually on the same page and I've learned so much from playing with him. Jeff Neighbor has so much joy when he plays it's contagious. He just gets me, and the feelings are mutual. And how can you go wrong with Noel Jewkes, who plays practically every instrument there is? His lyrical sense as an instrumentalist is unmatched. Working with him is like getting a Masters degree in musicianship. Vince Lateano is a Bay Area gem. I'll be forever grateful that he, in a sense, mentored me as I worked my way back into vocal and performing shape. A long story, but suffice it to say, Pierre will always be Uncle Pierre to me. It's an honor to have him on my CD. Plus without Pierre, there wouldn't have been Harold Jones -- the icing on the cake. Having Harold (worked with Basie, Ella, Sarah, and now on tour with Tony Bennett) on four cuts of my CD is a dream. He's one of the greatest all-time big band drummers and one of the nicest, most unassuming gentlemen you'll ever meet. Of course for my live show at Yoshi's I will have Kent Bryson on drums with me. Like Harold, he just lays it down and swings hard. He understands the dynamics of a performance and he quite frankly has what I call "the ears of an elephant" (that's a compliment). The first time I played with him it felt as though we had been on the road for years. When I mention this to other singers who've played with him, they say the same thing.
Your "Swingin Night at the Sands" shows have created a lot of buzz around the Bay Area. Do you prefer these larger venues or more of an intimate setting and why?
I'm so grateful that I get to do both big band and small group shows in all kinds of venues. I have no preference, because for me it's all about the one-to-one communication I'm having with each musician on stage with me at the time, and the audience members I'm lucky enough to perform for.
Your upcoming debut at Yoshi's is being billed as a swingin' soiree. With "Rat Pack"-inspired cocktails and an open dance floor, it promises to be an unforgettable night out on the town. Tell us more about this event.
I'm so looking forward to this show. The night was inspired by a friend, Jennifer Romo, who attended my "Swingin' Night" show on Pier 39. When I mentioned my upcoming engagement at Yoshi's, her reply was, "Great, a perfect excuse to get dolled up, sip champagne and go dancing." It just seemed like a great theme, so I added the "High Society Nights" title. My agent, Lisa Bautista and the team at Yoshi's have done a marvelous job of making it a reality. This will be a really special Wednesday night on Fillmore Street! ***
REVIEW OF SONOMA JAZZ PLUS - WINE AND SONG By Jim Harrington
Before the evening concerts on Saturday and Sunday many music lovers partook in the small-venue offering Wine and Song, where musical styles and local wines are combined in such cool pairings as "Piano and Pinot," "Blues and Blancs" and "Swing Away with Chardonnay" in restaurant and hotel lobbies around Sonoma's plaza. Oakland's Marshall Lamm did a solid job booking the all-local talent slate, which included guitarist Terrence Brewer and trombonist Doug Beavers. The best of the lot was vocalist Jonathan Poretz, who brought down the house at the Ledson Hotel on Sunday.
REVIEW OF JONATHAN PORETZ' A SWINGIN' NIGHT AT THE SANDS
WEDNESDAY EVENING AT J'LA CHIC THEATRE39 AT PIER 39 WAS A FANTASTIC SHOW CALLED "A SWINGIN' NIGHT AT THE SANDS", JONATHAN PORETZ'S MUSICAL SALUTE TO 1960'S LAS VEGAS AND THE RAT PACK. THE RAT PACK WAS FRANK SINATRA, DEAN MARTIN, SAMMY DAVIS, JR., JOEY BISHOP AND PETER LAWFORD; THEY WERE IN LAS VEGAS FILMING THE FIRST "OCEAN'S ELEVEN". I WAS LUCKY ENOUGH TO BE THERE AND SEE THEM AT THE SANDS HOTEL. IF "YOU" WERE LUCKY ENOUGH TO SEE "THE RAT PACK IS BACK" WHICH PLAYED HERE IN SAN FRANCISCO SEVERAL YEARS AGO, IT STARRED JONATHAN PORETZ AS FRANK SINATRA AND, BELIEVE ME, HE SOUNDS EXACTLY LIKE FRANKIE. ALSO IN THIS SHOW IS JEFF APPLEBAUM WHO PLAYED JOEY BISHOP. HE'S A GREAT COMEDIAN AND SETS A PERFECT TEMPO FOR THE SHOW YOU'RE ARE ABOUT TO SEE. AND THE SHOW IS BACKED BY ONE OF THE BEST BANDS YOU'LL EVER SEE AND HEAR -- A DYNAMITE 12-PIECE BIG BAND THAT'S RIGHT ON EVERY BEAT.
AND BESIDES ALL OF THE FAVORITES THAT SINATRA SANG, THERE ARE CLASSICS THAT WERE PERFORMED BY DEANO, SAMMY AND EVEN BOBBY DARIN. THIS IS SUCH AN INSPIRING SHOW, I WANT TO SEE IT AGAIN. AND, YOU CAN HAVE THAT OPPORTUNITY OF SEEING "A SWINGIN' NIGHT AT THE SANDS" WHEN IT RETURNS TO THEATRE 39 AT PIER 39 NEXT WEDNESDAY, MAY 20TH, AND THE FOLLOWING WEDNESDAY, MAY 27TH. SEE IT AND YOU WON'T BE ABLE TO STOP YOUR TOES FROM TAPPING. TAKE MY WORD FOR IT, GO AND SEE JONATHAN PORETZ'S "A SWINGIN' NIGHT AT THE SANDS" -- IT'S A KNOCKOUT! FOR KGO NEWSTALK ENTERTAINMENT, I'M JERRY FRIEDMAN
Close listening reveals a thin layer of Mark Murphy grit beneath his polished patina and, particularly on "Come Rain of Come Shine," a hint of Tony Bennett. In what amounts to a solid assortment of safely appealing standards, highlighted by a pleasurable blending of Frank Loesser's "My Time of Day" and "I've Never Been in Love Before," from "Guys and Dolls," Poretz proves himself a fine belter and ballader.
If Mel Torme' is "The Velvet Fog" than you've at least got to name vocalist Jonathan Poretz "The Velvet Haze", as his smooth-yet-hip sound gives a fair nod to the Bow-tied One. Poretz' treatment of the Great American Songbook goes down nice and easy as he croons through swinging versions of "This Time The Dream's On Me" and "Just One Of Those Things." On a gentle version of "My Time Of Day" he brings great controlled emotion with just the sparse support of Lee Bloom's piano, before cranking the music up a notch and swinging into "I've Never Been In Love Before". Poretz all through this disc displays great range and control, and his selection of Noel Jewkes on tenor works together like jelly with peanut butter. All through the disc, the rhythm section is tight and in the pocket, keeping the music fresh and snappy. Fans of Torme will rejoice over the heir apparent.
Whether crooning the perfect Rodgers & Hart ballad "It Never Entered My Mind" or swinging ebulliently on the Harold Alren/Johnny Mercer chestnut "Come Rain or Come Shine," Poretz projects a forthright masculinity, vulnerable but virile, that often seems to have disappeared with the lost art of male jazz singing (Kurt Elling is the only male vocalist under 40 I can think of with a similar swagger).
Jonathan Poretz swaggers into our living rooms and hearts with "A Lot Of Livin' To Do", the title and opening track from his debut album. Presenting standards by some of the best songwriters in the history of American jazz music, Poretz can be sophisticated ("Then I'll Be Tired Of You") and sensitive ("I See Your Face Before Me"), while at other times struts his stuff, as with "This Time The Dream's On Me". The album, which has both a nostalgic ambience and a sixties vintage CD cover, does not attempt to copy, but rather captures the very essence of the eras from which these tunes are drawn.
Poretz and co-arranger Lee Bloom (Charles Mingus, Madeleine Peyroux) have not merely dusted off old standards but injected new life into these fine compositions. The album sounds like a live stage presentation, achieved primarily by having all the musicians in the studio playing while Poretz was singing versus recording each of the artists separately. The final recording for most of the songs was accomplished through one or two takes, leading to a fresh sound rather than an antiseptic overproduced record.
Poretz's vocal presentation of three-time Tony Award winner and Theater Hall of Fame composer Charles Strouse's "A Lot of Livin'To Do" has the right degree of cockiness and is complemented by Bloom's lively piano chops. Harold Jones, whose performance resume includes Natalie Cole, Count Basie, Hoagy Carmichael, Sarah Vaughan and B.B. King, just to name a few, adds texture with some sensitive drumming. The song also features some excellent scatting by Poretz.
The San Francisco area native sounds spookily like Frank Sinatra as he croons Harold Arlen and Johnny Mercer's "Come Rain Or Shine". Arlen was the author of charts such as "Over the Rainbow" and "I've Got The World On A String" while Mercer was one of the most prolific lyricists to put pen to paper, a fabulous singer and the co-founder of Capitol Records. Poretz's reading of the Nat King Cole's "On The Street Where You Live" (written by Fredrick Loewe/Alan Jay Lerner) pulls at our heartstrings and captures the essence of a man whose sensibilities have given away to being intoxicated with love. As he croons, "I have often walked/Down the street before/But the pavement always/Stayed beneath my feet before/All at once am I/Several stories high/Knowing I'm on the street where you live", it is easy to envision the ladies in the audience swooning. The flute is one of many instruments that Noel Jewkes has mastered and those talents come to the fore on "It Never Entered My Mind" as he brings an ethereal element to Bloom and Poretz's interpretation of the Richard Rodgers/Lorenz Hart song. Jewkes raises the bar he set with his own excellent musicianship when he provides us with an awe-inspiring sax solo on the "My Time Of Day"/"Never Been In Love Before" medley. Other fabulous songs on this disc include Cole Porter's "Just One Of Those Things", "How Insensitive" (Antonio Carlos Jobim/Norman Gimbel/Vinicius De Moraes) and "I'll Remember April".
A Lot Of Livin' To Do, released on the Pacific Coast Jazz label, is an album you should go out looking for and not merely wait to stumble across. I am not aware if Poretz or the label has plans to make any of these tunes available as single downloads but I would not recommend taking that approach if it is an option. Poretz has woven together a collection of songs that are interdependent and build a strong and romantic theme from the opening track to the closing number.
A Lot of Livin' to Do introduces Jonathan Poretz, an impressive new crooner whose singing sometimes recalls Mel Torme (particularly on the more uptempo material) but is fresh and original within the genre. Poretz has an attractive voice, he swings, and he shows versatility on the high quality standards. High points include "A Lot of Livin' to Do," "I'll Remember April" and "On the Street Where You Live." Poretz's backup group is very jazz-oriented and there are quite a few excellent solos from Noel Jewkes (on four different instruments) and pianist Lee Bloom. Overall, this is a very impressive effort. (4 Stars)
On more under-recorded tunes like the ballads "Then I'll Be Tired of You" (by Schwartz/Harburg), "I See Your Face Before Me" (Schwartz/Dietz), and the swinging "This Time The Dream's On Me" (Arlen/Mercer), Poretz does an effective job with shading and nuance that would do Sinatra and Torme proud. On a Frank Loesser medley from Guys and Dolls, Poretz matches up the rarely heard "My Time of Day" with an unusally uptempo take on "I've Never Been In Love Before".
Frank Sinatra's footwear makes for some tough shoes to fill. But judging by A Lot of Livin' to Do, San Francisco-based vocalist Jonathan Poretz has done an able job of rendering Old Blue Eyes in "A Tribute to Frank, Sammy, Joey & Dean (The Rat Pack)", a show with performances in San Francisco, Las Vegas and Boston. Not that Poretz sounds like Sinatra on the recording. With a delivery that is closer to that of another Sinatra-influenced singer, Bobby Darin, Poretz comes across silky, swinging and cool as hell, sort of a cross between Darin and Mel Torme. The title tune, a classic American Songbook standard, opens the set, popping to life on some subdued Latin-flavored percussion behind Poretz, who is a bit hushed at first, before the band cranks things up into a more characteristically ”for the tune" jaunty mode.
And man, can this guy Poretz scat, loose and insouciant”a bit of a lost art, it sometimes seems, in the male vocalist field. That sets the stage for the rest of the set, which is comprised of a bunch of familiar tunes out of the Songbook: "Come Rain or Come Shine", "I'll Remember April", the always beautiful (and especially so here) Rodgers and Hart jewel "It Never Entered My Mind" and "I See Your Face Before Me". "Just One of Those Things" finds Poretz backed by a flexible rhythm team, along with Noel Jewkes' smoky, moody wee hours tenor saxophone; "I'll Remember April" features his clarinet, and Antonio Carlos Jobim's "How Insensitive", his flute. And I can't close without mentioning the sound, which is very crisp and clean, with subtle "live" resonance, like sitting in a small, half-filled nightclub, close to the stage
If you take a superb ensemble and add a fine singer that explores the American love song with due deference, you will have a delightful mix that is easy on the ear. Jonathan Poretz' vocal along with a smoldering tenor solo by Noel Jewkes makes "Then I'll Be Tired Of You" a ballad that that will catch your attention and linger long after the last note. A catchy piano intro by Lee Bloom followed by Poretz' solid vocal on the brightly done "Come Rain Or Come Shine" is a fine tribute to this Arlen / Mercer classic. "Just One Of Those Things" is one of those chestnuts that bears repeated spinnings. Some 4 bar exchanges between Poretz' scatting and Jewkes tenor gives this tune a new dimension. This number, in my estimation, is the highlight of this album. A lover of the Great American Songbook will find this recording irresistible and a pleasant departure from the state of music in these troubled musical times. This is a super CD with a talented singer and top notch accompaniment. 5 Stars
Sounds Like jazz singer Jonathan Poretz is ''Livin' A Lot thank you'' in terms of his hard drivin' vocalism..He's chosen a jazz group up for the challenge as well that swings the music as hard as Jonathan. It's also appropriate that Jon pays accolades to the ''shoulders'' that paved the way to his real time vocal efforts, i.e. Mel, Tony. Frank, et al. Listening to these guys have moulded Jon into the vocal bomb which he has become, as he literally explodes on to the musical sensibilities of his new listeners....US! Jonathan sings his songs with an all embracing style delving into both the bebop and swing idioms....And, his vocal maturity I predict will bring him the fame & notoriety he deserves.
New to me until this CD arrived, Jonathan Poretz is a fine singer of the classic pop repertoire. He takes songs such as 'Come Rain Or Come Shine', 'A Lot Of Livin' To Do', 'I'll Remember April', 'This Time The Dream's On Me' and 'Just One Of Those Things' and gives them a sharp, new edge. His respect for the tradition is evident throughout and he is always melodic and rhythmic. He is accompanied by multi-instrumentalist Noel Jewkes, here playing tenor saxophone, clarinet, flute and valve trombone, pianist Lee Bloom, with shared duties by bassists Pierre Josephs and Jeff Neighbor and drummers Vince Lateano and Harold Jones. This is a very attractive album and one that should appeal strongly to all those who love the great American songbook. Jonathan appears to be based on the west coast and those of you living out there should try to see and hear him live. I don't know for sure, but chances are his gigs are listed on his website.
A jazzy combination of slow jams and playful tunes encompasses Jonathan Poretz's A Lot Of Livin' To Do. The title track opens the album and it is a salacious version of the breezy ditty. It has percussion work from Vince Lateano, and Poretz's sensual voice muses lyrics like, "There are girls ripe for some kissin'. And I mean to kiss me a few. Oh those girls don't know what their missin'. I've got a lot of livin' to do." "My Time of Day/I've Never Been in Love Before" has soulful tenor saxophone play from Noel Jewkes. "Then I'll Be Tired Of You" has drum play from Lateano, more smooth saxophone work from Jewkes and piano play from Lee Bloom. Poretz speaks of his romantic feelings and just how deep they run, with lyrics like, "I'll be tired of you when stars are tired of gleaming. When I'm tired of dreaming then I'll be tired of you." "Come Rain or Come Shine" is a playful tune with nimble piano play from Bloom and lyrics like, "I'm gonna love you like nobody's loved you, come rain or come shine."
Jonathan Poretz's A Lot Of Livin' To Do is the perfect blend of upbeat and tenebrous tunes for the jazz enthusiast. Rating: 9.5
KCBS Radio, KRON TV San Francisco
"Silky smooth and swingin', Jonathan Poretz's voice beautifully wraps around a lyric and lets the song soar!"