By Don Heckman
Studio City, CA. Second, even third, generation careers in show business aren’t exactly uncommon in the entertainment world. And singer Deana Martin’s name alone indicates a legacy powerful enough to open the right doors.
But Martin, who began a three night run at Vitello’s on Friday night, has the skills to build a career on, regardless of her lineage.
That said, however, she titled this presentation – which she’s been doing in locations across the country — “Deana Sings Dino” honoring her father, “The King of Cool” And she was introduced from the stage, by her father’s video announcement.
She further underscored the connection by performing such songs identified with Dean Martin as “Memories Are Made of This,” “That’s Amore,” ”You’re Nobody Til Somebody Loves You,” “Ain’t That A Kick in the Head,” “Everybody Loves Somebody” and “Volare.” And she topped off the paternal references with a video duet on “True Love” that included a fascinating montage and photos of Martin family life.
Inevitably, one couldn’t help but listen to Deana’s interpretations with distant, but recurring, memories of how they were sung by her father. Memories that were further revived by the arrangements played by her world class group – led by pianist and music director John Proulx, and featuring bassist Chuck Berghofer and guitarist John Chiodini. Often emphasizing a gently swinging groove, the charts were reminiscent of those used by Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra and the other partners in the Rat Pack.
Add to that Deana’s amiable and laid back manner in her between songs commentaries. Quick jokes came one after the other, interspersed with personal recollections of Dean Martin and such Rat Pack “uncles” as Sinatra and Sammy Davis, Jr.
Observing her father and the “uncles” in action as she grew up in a show biz environment, Deana has clearly mastered all the entertainment elements that work for her as a performing artist. To her credit – and unlike some of the singers in her generation – her performance overflowed with the confident, communicative manner of an utterly engaging entertainer.
Beyond all the legacy elements emphasized by the “Deana Sings Dino” aspects of the performance, there was the appealing musicality and interpretive lyricism present in everything she sang – nostalgic or otherwise. In songs such as “Beyond the Sea,” “The Lady Is A Tramp” and “I’d Love To Get You On A Slow Boat To China,” she displayed the very special qualities that are uniquely her own.
And one suspects that Dean Martin, had he been present at Vitello’s, would have been proud of the fine, convincingly imaginative artist that his daughter has become.
Deana Martin and “Deana Sings Dino” continues at Vitello’s tonight.
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Photos by Bob Barry.