Ol’ Blue Eyes has gone. Frank Sinatra left the terrestrial stage for celestial pastures 20 years ago, but his music lives on and continues to resonate loud and clear in the narrative of our 21st-century world.
Since his death, Sinatra’s voluminous oeuvre has been trawled and repackaged for our listening pleasure by a large number of artists, spanning a wide range of styles and genres. There are those who proffer his hits in renditions that are pretty close to the original versions, naturally taking into account that no one can really emulate the peerless crooner’s vocal delivery and sheer class. And there are some who took the source material and ran wild with it.
The latter, infamously, include a feral reading by punk rocker Sid Vicious of “My Way,” one of Sinatra’s best-known songs. But there were plenty of straighter interpretations performed and recorded over the years, including by Elvis Presley and Paul Anka. The latter, in fact, was responsible for the number making it to Sinatra’s door in the first place, in the late 1960s, when he rearranged and rewrote a French song while Anka was on vacation in the south of France.
Next month, local audiences will be able to get a taste of the iconic singer’s inimitable style and sound, in the company of some pals, when the Sinatra & Friends – Celebrating 100 Years of Frank Sinatra production makes it over to Haifa and Tel Aviv (October 22 and 23, respectively).
The show will be fronted by singers Stephen Triffitt, Mark Adams and George Daniel Long, in the guise of Sinatra, Dean Martin and Sammy Davis Jr., the threesome that spearheaded the stellar and, by all accounts, somewhat notorious Rat Pack gang that was all the rage in Las Vegas and elsewhere across the States, primarily through the Fifties and Sixties.
The patrons in Haifa and Tel Aviv will be able to sit back and enjoy a musically and visually polished and wide-ranging act that has been doing the rounds of the global circuit for over 15 years, with Triffitt & co. doing their Sinatra-based thing for all manner of audience, including several of the well-heeled variety, such as Prince Phillip, and Victoria and David Beckham.
TRIFFITT MAY have been playing the Sinatra role to the public for nigh on two decades, but he has been into Ol’ Blue Eyes for much longer.
“I was around 15 years old,” the British singer recalls. “My dad was in the Royal Air Force and we were living in Malta.” This was back in the day when the Internet and YouTube were not even a twinkle in the global eye. However, the teenager did have a means of keeping up with the latest musical developments back in Blighty. “There was BFBS [British Forces Broadcasting Service] radio, which still exists.”
It wasn’t just about velvety, expansively backed sounds. Some far more contemporary and cutting-edge stuff also left its – albeit temporary – imprint on Triffitt’s evolving musical consciousness.
“There were only four [radio] channels in those days,” he continues. “There was punk music, which was the pop I used to listen to, and there was the easy listening channel, which was pretty much just Elvis.” The latter paved the way to Triffitt’s enduring musical epiphany. “It was on the easy listening channel that I first heard Frank.” It was love at first hearing. “I thought, I like this. That was it for me. I liked storytelling and the big band, big orchestra, sound. Soon after that I bought my first Sinatra record, with all the classics on it.”
Some of those timeworn, timeless numbers – such as “My Way,” “New York, New York” and “Strangers in the Night” – are now part and parcel of Celebrating 100 Years. By the way, the show moniker refers to the fact that Francis Albert Sinatra first exercised his vocal chords just over a century ago.
Despite Triffitt being well and truly hooked on the definitive crooner’s nonpareil style, it took a while before he considered doing a Sinatra turn himself. “I was in the RAF, myself, for a while and then I went into sales. It was only when I was a salesman selling time-share in Tenerife, many years later, when I did ‘New York, New York’ at a karaoke thing. People really liked it, and I thought that maybe I could make a little bit of money out of that.”
Triffitt is a late bloomer. He was close to 40 at the time of the life changer in Tenerife. He paid his professional dues by spending a year or so honing his act at various watering holes. He already had a handle on Sinatra’s vocal delivery, but he wanted to get the whole act down pat before getting his Sinatra show out there. That was in 2000, and he was joined by Adams and Long a couple of years later.
True to the Rat Pack music-and-patter format, Celebrating 100 Years is not just about the music that Sinatra, Martin and Davis performed so well; there will be plenty of monkeying around and gags in the show as well.
But while the music may be timeless, some of the between-number horsing around feeds off a very different phase of the Western cultural-social continuum, and some of the jokes Sinatra and his pals unleashed back then might be considered, these days, a bit on the risqué side. Triffitt is aware of the pitfall.
“This all comes from an era when men were men and women were grateful,” he notes. “It is a very, very different era. You can’t get away [now] with some of the jokes. They were taken out of the show. They were pointless.”
Apparently, the original performers were not just blithely taking potshots at all and sundry. “They were aware that the jokes were non-PC.
But what they were doing was taking the Mickey out of people who were racist. Sammy Davis was the one who started those jokes off. He said: ‘I’m black, I’m Puerto Rican and whatever. When I move into a neighborhood, I totally wipe it out, man.’ He was the one who started it.”
Clearly, Triffitt and his pals will be offering a polished act designed to titillate and entertain in equal amounts.For more information and tickets: *8780 and www.leean.co.il, and (04) 837-7777 and www.barak-tickets.co.il
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