Category Archive for: ‘Steve Murray’
I’ll Be Seein’ Youz…A Bronx Boy’s Musical Perspective of World War II
Feinstein’s at the Nikko, San Francisco, CA, November 17, 2016
Even recovering from a vocally debilitating bout of bronchitis, Franc D’Ambrosio successfully pulled off his charming show “I’ll Be Seein’ Youz”, most probably a testament to his professional stamina, having played the title role in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Tony Award winning musical The Phantom of the Opera for more than 2300 performances.
This show, recorded for a live CD here at The RRazz Room back in 2011, is utterly charming, well-crafted and a stunning snapshot of popular WWII music circa 1939-46. D’Ambrosio spoon feeds his fans his favorite subject of banter, his “big, loud Italian family”, working stories of uncles, aunts and his grandma into fitting segues to his well-researched material.
Music from the “Lucky Strike Radio Hour” opened the show: “That Old Black Magic” (Harold Arlen/Johnny Mercer), “Don’t Get Around Much Anymore” (Duke Ellington/Bob Russell) and Jerome Kern and Ira Gershwin’s “Long Ago and Far Away”. The USO featured prominently during the War, effectively buoying the spirits and supporting the troops. To cute numbers reflecting the romantic innocence of the period were Ted Grouya and Frank Loesser’s “In My Arms” and “They’re Either Too Young or Too Old” (Loesser/Arthur Schwartz), defining both the male and female perspectives.
Another Loesser tune, co-written with Peter Lind Hayes, “Why Do They Call A Private, A Private”, made famous by Ethel Merman and “Lili Marleen”, a poem written in 1915 by Hans Leip and set to music by Norbert Schultze were immensely successful. D’Ambrosio has included some seldom heard nuggets like John Jacob Loeb and Carmen Lombardo’s “Ma, I Miss Your Apple Pie” in which a soldier longs for his mother’s home cooking. W.W. Massie’s clever double entendre song “The Deepest Shelter in Town” is a hoot.
D’Ambrosio pays homage to Bing Crosby, a major star on the era with: “Ac-Cent-Tchu-Ate the Positive” (Johnny Mercer/Harold Arlen), “You Must Have Been a Beautiful Baby” (Mercer/Harry Warren), “Pennies From Heaven” (Arthur Johnston/Johnny Burke), and Irving Berlin’s iconic “White Christmas”.
’Ambrosio had a hit with this show back when he created it, and it still plays well today. The music feeds our nostalgic desires for a time less complicated, less cluttered and definitely more black and white. D’Ambrosio lends it color and charm, which is his great strength.