54 Salutes Sinatra: The Second Century

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54 Salutes Sinatra: The Second Century

Feinstein’s/54 Below, NYC, March 2, 2019

Reviewed by Ron Forman for Cabaret Scenes

Frank Sinatra
Photo: Martin Mills/Getty Images)

The supply of wonderful songs in the Frank Sinatra Songbook seems endless, so the good news is that there appears to be no limit to how many times Scott Siegel can gather a group of marvelous singers each month to pay tribute to The Chairman of the Board. As is always the case in Siegel’s shows, his introductory comments were interesting, informative, and often amusing. Music director/pianist Ross Patterson’s work matched each singer’s style and sound, and his solo interludes always brought applause from the audience.

Aaron Ramey opened as Sinatra himself might have, with a lively “Come Fly with Me.” The dynamic Willy Falk followed with “All of You.” He would return to show off his skill as a balladeer with “What’ll I Do,” ending nicely by softly repeating the words “What’ll I do.” Siegel actually found a singer from Spain, Pepe Nufrio, with a voice big enough to do justice to “Granada.” Despite the small stage, song-and-dance man Danny Gardner’s tap dancing dazzled on “Where or When.” Carole J Bufford performed a kinetic and ultra-dramatic “Chicago (That Toddlin’ Town)” and came back with “Birth of the Blues” with much oomph. The show featured two truly spectacular male voices, those of Douglas Ladnier and Martin Vidnovic.

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Ladnier’s great sound and dramatic facial expressions stopped the show with “Send in the Clowns,” prompting Siegel to remark “You won’t hear it any better.” His second number was a thrilling “You”ll Never Walk Alone,” featuring an excellent piano solo by Patterson. Vidnovic’s big, beautiful voice and dramatic ability made “I’m a Fool to Want You,” memorable.

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He has the voice, dramatic skill, and gravitas to be able to do justice to the number that closed the show— the song that Sinatra called “the anthem”—“My Way,” holding the final note as the SRO audience cheered.

Ron Forman

Ron Forman has been a Mathematics Professor at Kingsborough Community College for 45 years. In that time, he has managed to branch out in many different areas. From 1977 to 1994 he was co-owner of Comics Unlimited, the third largest comic book distribution company in the USA. In 1999,after a lifetime of secretly wanting to do a radio program, he began his weekly Sweet Sounds program on WKRB 90.3 FM, dedicated to keeping the music of the Great American Songbook alive and accessible. This introduced him to the world of cabaret, which led to his position as a reviewer for Cabaret Scenes.