People are talking about Frank Fontana
Here's what the critics have said:
Frank Fontana: Natural Jazz
Frank Fontana: The Nature of Jazz
"... His program, with impressive musical direction by Wells Hanley, is well thought out and full of fresh, imaginative song selections. ... Fontana melds charming patter built about his relationship to nature with items such as Duke Ellington's "I Like the Sunrise" and a little known but gorgeous Stephen Sondheim song titled "Sand." A gentle jazz artist, Fontana phrases lyrics with care.
"... [T]here's something smooth, easy, and relaxing in his consistently mellow delivery. ... Fontana's sincere, likeable stage presence is a major asset that helps make Natural Jazz a highly enjoyable act."
Barbara and Scott Siegel
"... Destined to return again soon for an extended stay, Natural Jazz is a terrific collection of songs Fontana and musical director Wells Hanley put together that deal with nature in compelling, unpretentious ways. ...
"He sings with a refreshing understatement that exposes the joy in a song like "Soon Its Gonna Rain" as easily as it enlivens the silliness of Richard Rodney Bennetts delightful bauble, "Lets Go and Live in the Country." Backed by Hanleys exciting piano arrangements along with terrific musicians Eivind Opsvik (bass) and Robby Sinclair (drums), Fontana is definitely a singer you need to know about and see."
Bistro Bits: Rising Through the Ranks
"The result is tonic... It's billed as "Natural Jazz" and stays true to both words. Many of the songs ... concern nature and, like country zephyrs, have a refreshing effect.
"Fontana never pushes a thing. He just stands there in his gray suit and lets the sound come out as easily as that. ...Fontana is already working this middle rank well, which could translate into his rapidly rising farther."
"Natural Jazz by a natural singer, thats a pretty good combination. Frank Fontana delivered his musical ode to earth, wind, fire and other elements at Danny's Skylight Room, at the same time presenting himself as an unassuming, polished performer with easy patter and a velvety tenor tone. With these assets, Fontana could well step forward in the lineup of cabaret favorites.
"...[H]is voice is softly smooth and he has an elegant jazz turn of melody that evokes at times the youthful Mel-tone. His stress and phrasing reveals a savvy connection to the lyrics.
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"Music director, Wells Hanley, provided notable arrangements, such as the dramatic introduction on drums bringing in Duke Ellingtons I Like the Sunrise. The trio, including Eivind Opsvik on bass and Robby Sinclair on drums, also created an impressionistic backdrop for Djavans Agua."
"Frank Fontana has an infectious smile, an engaging manner, and some of the smoothest song styling ever to grace a cabaret stage. His show ... could only be called Natural Jazz" - not because every song celebrates the wonder of nature, but because Fontana is a natural himself. He seems to get great joy out of what he does and passes it along to the audience. His multi-range, mellifluous voice can coax you into a state of euphoria and true appreciation of whatever song hes executing. And isnt that what jazz is all about?
"Hes backed by some extremely talented musicians - Wells Hanley (masterful pianist as well as Fontanas Musical Director), Eivind Opsvik (bass), and Robby Sinclair (drums). Add the gifted Fontana to this mix, and every song becomes a precious gem. Natural Jazz is a natural choice for anyone requiring excellence in their entertainment."
"...a wonderful performer with an easy-going manner, a beautiful voice and a natural stage presence thats a joy to watch.
"Fontana's choice of repertoire from the American songbook is excellent, with songs and composers well-suited for his light, flexible tenor. ...His personality comes shining through in his interpretations and it's easy to feel like you know him after listening for just 10 or 15 minutes. That's a tremendous asset for any performer and Fontana makes the most of it with well-placed, succinct patter that's humorous, charming and revealing. ...
"...Fontana has a keen and instinctive jazz sensibility as evidenced by some terrific scatting in Cleo Laine's up-tempo arrangement of "The Nearness of You" ...
"...[H]e's in spectacular company with Wells Hanley and Eivind Opsvik at the piano and bass. These amazing musicians left me speechless with their combination of bravura technique and understated, elegant playing. Hanley's keyboard work, especially, is dazzling with key changes on "Taking A Chance On Love" and "There Will Never Be Another You" that were nothing short of magical. I don't know how old these guys are, but they're far too young to be so unbelievably good. That Fontana needs to record a CD with them isn't even open to debate -- it must happen and soon."
"A true song stylist, Frank Fontana brought to Don't Tell Mama an elegant act that neatly displayed his sensitive acting ability and his warm vocal sound. Singing in a gentle jazz idiom, he put over a romantic "The Nearness of You" and an aching "The People That You Never Get to Love." In addition to his smooth singing, Fontana's patter was charming and funny... [W]e're looking forward to seeing and hearing Fontana again soon."
Barbara & Scott Siegel
"I was more than merely impressed by the quiet eloquence of Frank Fontana's delivery and interpretations - I was blown away. Though their styles are quite different, the artfulness of his phrasing put me in mind of Julie Wilson; I know of no higher praise."
"Nine years, 2 months and 4 days (by Frank's calculations) is too long to be away from NYC cabaret (he did sneak into town from California a few years ago to do a revue with 4 other singers). And it has certainly been too long since we were treated to the sound of this self-confessed "Jazz Waltz" specialist. His delightful return show at Eighty Eight's included stuff by Irving Berlin, Hoagy Carmichael, Stephen Sondheim, Mercer & Arlen and others, all given a light jazz spin that made this show a joy."
"I recently enjoyed one of my most satisfying experiences in a cabaret, and at the very top of the new year. Frank Fontana, a singer with whom I was vaguely familiar, brought his smooth, gentle, lilting jazz stylings to Eighty Eight's for three shows. Anyone who missed Fontana should make it a point to catch any future shows he may be planning.
The man is charming, at total ease with himself. The pipes are really smooth and elegant with a hint of sunny warmth, which was reflected so beautifully in "I've Got The World on a String." A rendition of "The Very Thought of You" captured a sweet tenderness, as did "My One and Only Love." Yet Fontana is also able to become philosophical and introspective, as in his bittersweet reading of "Good Thing Going." Throughout the show, Fontana maintained an easy, sometimes self-deprecating banter with his audience which added charm to the entire experience. A definite see."
Here's what jazz great Vivian Lord has said:
Here's what audience members have said:
"... enormously talented ... I thoroughly enjoyed and appreciated the show and all the work that I know went into it!"
Frank Fontana's new show "Natural Jazz" is filled with songs with sensory images from nature that define the title of the show. Opening with "Soon It's Gonna Rain," you can almost see, feel and smell the approaching storm as Frank sings of ducking under a pile of leaves as it begins to rain pell-mell! Ah! Soothing, natural and jazzy! Nature is reflected in all of the songs, and the remarkable accompaniment of Wells Hanley on piano, Eivind Opsvik on bass, and Robby Sinclair on drums provide the perfect setting for these songs, some of which may be as new to you as they were to me.
"Let's Go Live In the Country" penned by R.R. Bennett is a delight to urban dwellers. Joel Siegel and Steve Christofferson's "Perennial," with its mention of columbine, lilac, tulips and honeysuckle paints a beautiful picture of the Spring that is sure to come, and is a beautiful find (Frank gave special thanks to Patti Wicks for charting this). Sondheim's "I Remember" is filled with nature images (sky-snow-ice-rain), and Roger Callaway and Gene Lees' "I Love to Make Things Grow" fits perfectly into the theme. Fontana's voice at times reminds me of Mel Tormé with its warm tones and smooth, velvety delivery. His patter gives just enough information about his own connection to nature and points to the relevance of each selection. This is jazz singing of the highest order. This show is a must for anyone who loves nature, beautiful songs and superb musicianship.
"Frank is the definition of a 'class act'. . ."
Jeff Matson, Songwriter
[A] brilliant show. You sing like a dream, Frank, and your soul is in every moment you are on stage. Your joy is infectious. . . . I was comfortable in your capable hands and velvet voice and really enjoyed being right there with you. . . . Your musicians are UNBELIEVABLY talented, as well.
[T]he best word I can think of to describe your performance is "mesmerizing." Every single song was so real . . . so genuine . . . and so honest. I was captivated by every word and every phrase. Not only that, but you made it all seem so effortless, too. . . . And how about that Wells Hanley?
I was blown away by your ease, comfort & style. . . . It was truly inspirational.
[T]hese days I don't get easily impressed by just any good old cabaret show . . . and I must admit that you really touched me. Not only you're a natural, but you truly manage to make it feel like a human being having a heart-to-heart conversation with the other human beings sitting in the room. A very rare thing indeed. . . . Thanks for a wonderful hour of great, jazzy, human songs!
Bravo! Your show was joyful, moving, playful, embracing. You radiate gentleness, compassion, and an open, generous, genuine sincerity. These qualities expressed through your velvet voice create an immediate connection between your heart and that of every audience member -- this one in particular.
It was a very affecting show -- beautifully crafted and performed.
So musical, smooth, elegant.