Lou Volpe: Remembering Ol’ Blue Eyes
Lou Volpe, Guitar and Keyboards
Delmar Brown, Keyboards
Mel Davis, Keyboards
Onaje Allan Gumbs, Keyboards
Stanley Banks, Bass
Leo Traversa, Bass
Gary Fritz, Percussion
Buddy Williams, Drums
Sipho Kunene, Drums
Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
August 8, 2016
This CD is an evocative instrumental tribute to Frank Sinatra and his lush vocal repertory. Lou Volpe, on guitar and keyboards, captures the emotional and tonal essence of Sinatra, without bringing in a singalong sound-alike. This is pure genius, as one can mentally recreate images of Sinatra’s exquisite voice, from moment to moment, while mainly focusing on the melancholy, moody, or upbeat stylizations. The lyrics are psychically inherent here, and the sound is magnetic. With Delmar Brown, Mel Davis, and Onaje Allan Gumbs on keyboards, Stanley Banks and Leo Traversa on bass, Gary Fritz on percussion, and Buddy Williams and Sipho Kunene on drums, that rhythmic sound varies with swing, Latin, bossa, and blues in the mix. Thirteen Sinatra classics are included, plus one final dedication solo, for Mr. Volpe, “Europa”, by Carlos Santana. A few other classics, in addition to the four tracks below, to be discovered in this album, are “Speak Low”, “That’s Life”, “The Best Is Yet To Come’, and I’ve Got You Under My Skin”.
#4 – You Go to My Head – Composed by J.F. Coots / H. Gillespie, 1938. The combination of Brown, Traversa, Fritz, and Williams, fusing with Mr. Volpe’s guitar, especially in generous drum-percussion infusion, gives this track a sophisticated, jazzy, midnight ambiance. One can imagine Sinatra with a glass of bourbon and a cigarette, in an orchestral interlude, gazing on his adoring fans. Mr. Volpe’s guitar flies through this song with breezy, ebullient musicality.
#6 – One for My Baby – Composed by H. Arlen / J. Mercer, 1943. Mr. Volpe takes his guitar to the blues, with the trio of Davis, Banks, and Williams featured, intertwining with his soulful guitar. Stanley Banks’ bass, in particular, transports the listener to a nightclub in Manhattan or Vegas or LA, wherever Sinatra might be hanging out, on a smoky, dimly lit stage, loosened tie, glass in hand.
#9 – Softly As I Leave You – Composed by G. Calabrese / T. De Vita, 1960. Mr. Volpe’s pure, tonal, guitar solo reminds me of clips I’ve seen of Sinatra singing solo, maybe at the end of a long evening, an encore for the crowd. With no accompaniment except Mr. Volpe’s own second guitar-dubbing, the melancholia is harnessed and quintessentially expressed. Mr. Volpe brings a light touch, but unwavering melody to this track.
#12 – All the Things You Are – Composed by J. Kern / O. Hammerstein, 1939. Here, in a trio performance, Mr. Volpe is accompanied only by the Traversa-Williams duo on bass and drums. The rhythms are rambunctious, romantic, and rapid in this joyfully stylized ballad. The understated Savoy Swing tempo, here, makes this track mentally danceable and illustrative of Mr. Volpe’s impressive versatility, and Sinatra’s.