By James DeFrances
Perhaps we should be referring to her as the “Princess of Cool.” Last Sunday night, singer Deana Martin, daughter of the original “King of Cool,” Dean Martin, appeared at Herb Alpert’s Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc. in Bel-Air. It was an evening of musical enrichment, great food and big smiles.
The adoration Deana’s fans have for her is unmatched by most other performers. At times throughout the night it seemed like a love-fest more than a concert! But Deana has a thorough understanding of what presenting a well-balanced show entails, and therefore she gives the onlookers metered doses from her figurative pyramid of entertainment. Whether it’s singing a song, telling a joke, recalling a story or providing commentary for her photo and video presentation, Deana is in complete control.
The room was full of friends, family, and legends of Hollywood’s golden age. Although it was an evening of classics and standards from the Great American Songbook, Deana has a knack for making something that’s very vintage into something entirely current. She also performed an abundance of her father’s songs, much to the delight of the audience, but she placed a very evident “Deana Martin” watermark on the tunes.
Songs like: “You’re Nobody ‘Til Somebody Loves You” and “Ain’t That a Kick in The Head” were crowd pleasers. Deana went on to perform an electronic duet of “True Love” which she recorded with her father at Capitol Records’ studios. The duet was complete with audio-video monitors of Dean singing with an orchestral backing track. Other tunes that dotted the set list included an engaging version of “Bye Bye Blackbird,” a punch in the face version of “That’s Life” and an audience participation version of “That’s Amore.”
My personal favorite of the night was a tender, slow swing, bossa style arrangement of “Quando, Quando Quando.” The Pat Boone ’60s hit attracted the complete attention of the audience to center stage. And even though ”Quando, Quando Quando” is a song that’s done frequently by other singers, Deana’s breathtakingly good read and stellar arrangement left a vivid memory.
Expertly backed by a small group of Hollywood A-list musicians – including pianist Rick Krive, drummer Kendall Kay, saxophonist Mark Visher, bassist Chuck Berghofer and guitarist John Chiodini – the only way to go was up. But shows like these aren’t rare occurrences for Deana who, along with her man-of-many-hats husband John Griffith, completes over 280 performances annually all around the globe.
Deana is sprightly, full of youth and a genuinely nice person to strike up a conversation with. Match this with her concise phrasing, great pitch and superb resume and you have a winning trifecta.
Hey, maybe it runs in the family!
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Photos by James DeFrances.
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