CD review from Bruce Crowther at Jazz Mostly

Link to Bruce Crowther’s review or read below…

Dane Vannatter Give Me Something Real (independent)

Singing a pleasing selection of songs, award-winning vocalist Dane Vannatter performs in a relaxed and invitingly intimate manner. The songs he sings come from many areas of popular music including the great standards and jazz. On this album, he sings Lover Come Back To Me, But Beautiful, Blame It On My Youth and East Of The Sun, as well as two songs from the Duke Ellington book: Just Squeeze Me, by Ellington and Les Gaines, and Something To Live For, by Billy Strayhorn. Dane’s interpretations delve deeply into the heart of the lyrics and his vocal sound is warm and appealing. On hand here to accompany Dane are two groups, the instrumentalists in one are keyboard player Daniel May, guitarist Eric Susoeff and bassist Jon Evans, while the other consists of Steve Ahern, trumpet, Bruce Abbot, saxophone and flute, Fred Boyle, piano, Ron Ormsby, bass, and Barry Weisman, drums. Clearly at home with the repertoire and in this setting it is readily apparent that Dane is a cabaret singer to seek out. Those not fortunate to live close enough to the Pittsburgh-New York-Boston axis to hear him in person will find this album an enjoyable alternative.

CD review by Rob Lester at Talkin’ Broadway

Link here to the review or read below…


After an impressive trio of solo albums, with the exception of some guest tracks on songwriters’ albums, golden-voiced Dane Vannatter has not released a CD since 2001. He’s continued to perform live (recently with regular gigs in the Pittsburgh area, with a rare Manhattan appearance at the Metropolitan Room on April 3). What a pleasure to have this voice-of-cream crooner back at last for a solo disc, even if I’m a bit grumpy feeling cheated that it only has ten tracks. But they’re all fine—and varied.

Recorded in a town in Massachusetts and in Pittsburgh, with tasteful backings in small-group settings, the results are satisfying and find the singer in superbly supple voice. With judiciously employed vibrato, his sound can be ethereal, with high and buttery notes a trademark specialty, extending to a drop-dead beautiful falsetto. But he can also sound gutsy and even cocky, but pure beauty in vocals is his long suit. If he drifted off or lost focus, he could probably become just a super-pretty sound floating through the air or poured like so much divinely rich honey. But he sounds involved, with a point of view, to anchor his renditions in a decided attitude and stance.

A mischievous kind of sexy playfulness dominates the first two selections. The opener is “Lover, Come Back to Me,” the antique by Sigmund Romberg and Oscar Hammerstein II that was written for an operetta and proclaimed in formal and starched style, but was long ago repurposed as a swinger by everyone from Sinatra to Streisand. Dane’s reading recalls the latter’s winking glee (from her earliest days) in its phrasing and emphasized words, though less wild and not as wildly unrestrained, but still a romp. It’s followed by another indulgence in seduction, “Just Squeeze Me,” again playing the cute and coy card without much at stake, perhaps eyebrow-raising in its day decades ago before lyrics were blatantly sexual and a Duke Ellington melody could compensation with the insouciance and spice. If I didn’t know Vannatter’s track record, these two opening tracks wouldn’t lead me to think he had a lot more to his arsenal than lightly charming fun stuff. Happily, there is more and it’s far more interesting and satisfying.

Although Dane has not discarded his cabaret/Great American Songbook loyalties, the title number of Give Me Something Real is one example of his expanding the horizons. It’s a roaring tiger of a pop song by Clark Anderson and Mervyn Warren (the Renaissance man and founding member of Take 6, whose first name is unfortunately spelled wrong on the back cover). To his credit, the singer sounds just as comfortable in this setting and with Al Green’s wailing R&B hit “Let’s Stay Together” as he does on cabaret classics “Blame It on My Youth” and “But Beautiful,” both bittersweet and imbued with 20/20 hindsight, or the novelty number “I Love My Bed” where he seems oh-so-cozy literally and in the genre.

But it is with a stunning medley of two pieces that he sounds most involved and is the most riveting. It’s Coldplay’s “Fix You” blended with Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah.” Without the sheen of classic American ballads to lean on or the flirt persona to fall back on, Dane is spare and magnetic and the lyrics to both seem like heartbeat-true confessionals and declamations. While some drawn-out and drone-like renderings of Cohen’s haunting and naked piece can have diminishing returns when going on at snail-pace length, the shorter time sandwiched between the two parts of “Fix You” easily fixes that and it’s all truly arresting throughout the track.

This CD just arrived this week and quickly became a favorite to spin again and again. Moody enhancements of flute and guitar up the ante of emotion. As the plaintive Billy Strayhorn music and lyric of “Something to Live for” waft through the air, the truths of loneliness and ache mixed with faint hope, I feel firmly convinced that this cry of pain is an open wound, slow to heal. But then the next selection, the old ditty about a heavenly nest of homey happiness “East of the Sun (and West of the Moon)” makes me thing that happy endings can be just around the corner. And I hope another platter from the much-missed Vannatter will be around the corner again soon. I am not willing to wait another decade and a half. And it would be a crime if he did.

Jazz Cabaret at St. Barnabas/Cole Porter tribute on May 11, 2016

Good afternoon Jazz Cabaret friends,
We have completed our plans for our next Jazz Cabaret – Wednesday, May 11, 2016 at the Mt. Vernon Room – Washington Place of the St. Barnabas Health System. This will be another theme evening of music. We are featuring the delightful songs of Cole Porter. Cole Porter wrote over 1,000 songs and many have become jazz standards and commercial successes. Dane Vannatter will present the songs in his great interpretive style that will bring out the Porter lyrical and sophisticated melodies as Cole Porter would have wanted.
Dane will be accompanied by Daniel May on piano, Tony DePaolis on bass, and James Moore on trumpet. This celebrated group of musicians will elevate the evening of music to great heights of entertainment.
Dane has a new CD –“Give Me Something Real” – that has received rave reviews in “Talking Broadway” by Rob Lester and In “Cabaret Scenes” by John Hoglund. The CD is being played on jazz stations throughout the country.
This May presentation will wrap up our second year of Jazz Cabarets. It is our hope to continue these productions. That, of course, depends on your continued support as well as that of our sponsors. We hope you will help us keep jazz “alive and well” in the community just as it was in my younger years – sans the smoke! In addition to your attendance and purchase of tickets, if you would like to become a sponsor, that would be a great help in keeping our endeavor viable.
image courtesy of Northern Connection
Time: Wednesday, May 11, 2016
7 p.m. to 9:15 p.m.
Place: Mt. Vernon Room
(Kean Theatre annex),
Washington Place, 5847 Meridian Road, Gibsonia, 15044
Cost: $12.50 per person.
Cash bar, free appetizers and parking. All of those monies go to the “free care fund” for needy patients in the St. Barnabas nursing homes. Your philanthropy and your support of jazz are very much appreciated.
Reservations and/or questions:
please contact us at 412-366-1035
or via our website Contact Form
Looking forward to seeing you on Wednesday, May 11.
Brooks and Helen Bartlett

Metropolitan Room, Manhattan, April 3

I’ll be singing in New York on Sunday April 3 at the Metropolitan Room for David Kenney‘s Everything Old Is New Again Radio Show. This is a public event that begins at 12:30p and is taped for broadcast same night from 9-11pm on WBAI 99.5 FM, simulcast on on the Internet. The line-up of talent includes the phenomenal Karrin Allyson. I’m happy to be returning to my old NYC home base at Metropolitan Room.