On April 10, at Carnegie Hall, the New York Pops, under Music Director Steven Reineke’s baton, celebrated the centennial of the birth of Frank Sinatra (December 12, 1915 to May 14, 1998) with a couple of dozen favorite songs, skillfully sung by a fine quartet of guests.
Suitably serving as the evening’s overture was Reineke and the Pops’ jaunty “New York, New York,” the paean to the city, written by John Kander and Fred Ebb for Liza Minnelli, which Sinatra certainly made his own. Bill Elliott wrote the arrangement. The Pops later offered a swinging “Moritat von Mackie Messer” (Mack the Knife), by Kurt Weill and Bertolt Brecht, from “Die Dreigroschenoper” (Threepenny Opera), in Reineke’s own version.
Making his Carnegie debut, Las Vegas headliner Frankie Moreno seduced with a winning “It Had to Be You,” by Isham Jones and Gus Kahn, as arranged by Marc Shaiman, and looked bravely at ‘ups and downs and overs and outs’ in Dean Kay and Kelly Gordon’s “That’s Life,” as arranged and orchestrated by Pops newcomer Matt Podd, complete with Moreno’s harmonica interlude and, best of all, a verse sung unamplified. He later captured the world-weariness of Harold Arlen and Johnny Mercer’s “One for My Baby (and One More for the Road),” in Chris Byars’ edition.
Tony DeSare contributed a suave and jazzy “Night and Day,” by Cole Porter, in Nelson Riddle and Tim Berens’ edition; a heartfelt “My Funny Valentine,” by Rodgers and Hart, arranged and orchestrated by Fred Barton; and a moving, sweetly sung “I Have Dreamed,” from Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “The King and I,” as arranged by Riddle and orchestrated by Essential Voices USA pianist Tedd Firth.
DeSare and bright-voiced Storm Large, making her Pops debut and greeting DeSare as “you talented SOB,” harmonized in a propulsive “Something’s Gotta Give,” by Mercer, arranged by DeSare, and orchestrated by Firth. Oozing sensuality, Large promised “The Best Is Yet to Come,” in Cy Coleman and Carolyn Leigh’s song, in Quincy Jones’ version, and brought down the house by delivering a dulcet, then dazzling, and deeply felt “Come Rain or Come Shine,” by Arlen and Mercer, in Pops founder Skitch Henderson’s arrangement. As Large pointed out, the latter was also sung by Sinatra’s sister centennial celebrant Billie Holiday.
Broadway’s Ryan Silverman vehemently vowed “I’m Gonna Live Till I Die,” showing off a wide range, with polish, in Podd’s arrangement and orchestration of the Walter Kent, Mann Curtis, and Al Hoffman number. Silverman touched us with his romantic “Moonlight Becomes You,” by Jimmy VanHeusen and Johnny Burke, in Riddle’s edition, and sizzled in Barton’s arrangement of Jule Styne, Betty Comden, and Adolph Green’s “Just in Time.”
Silverman and Moreno closed the first half of the concert with a powerhouse “Birth of the Blues,” by Ray Henderson, Buddy G. DeSylva, and Lew Brown, arranged by Berens, and treated us to a partial encore. Silverman and Large later joined forces for a tender “(Saying) Somethin’ Stupid (like I love you),” by C. Carson Parks, arranged by Berens. And DeSare and Moreno, both playing the Steinway as well as singing, stopped the show with their arrangement of Gerald Marks and Seymour Simons’ “All of Me.”
To Large, who traded her diva gown for her grandfather’s 1933 Brooks Brothers wedding tuxedo, fell the honor of closing “Let’s Be Frank” by proudly proclaiming individuality in Claude François, Jacques Revaux, and Paul Anka anthem “My Way,” arranged by Don Costa and adapted by Firth. The encore was a medley of some of Sinatra’s additional greatest hits, consisting of DeSare’s “I Got the World on a String,” Silveman’s “I’ve Got You under My Skin,” Moreno’s “I Get a Kick out of You,” Large’s “Summer Wind,” Silverman and DeSare’s “Witchcraft,” Moreno and Large’s “Luck Be a Lady,” the full quartet’s “All the Way,” and a sing-along of “New York, New York.”
The Pops returns to Carnegie on May 4 at 7 p.m. for its 32nd Birthday Gala, honoring sister and brother director-choreographers Kathleen and Rob Marshall, with Reineke leading the likes of Laura Benanti, Alan Cumming, Sutton Forster, Victor Garber, Brian Stokes Mitchell, Donna Murphy, Bebe Neuwirth, Kelli O’Hara, Margo Seibert, James Snyder, and Rachel York. Tickets for the concert are available, for $65 to 160, on line from www.carnegiehall.org
, by calling CarnegieCharge at 212/247-7800, or visiting the box office at 57th Street and Seventh Avenue. For tickets for the full Gala evening, beginning at $1,250 and including the 8:30 p.m. black-tie Dinner Dance at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel, on 60th Street, west of Broadway, telephone the New York Pops at 212/765-7677.