Give Me Something Real – Dane Vannatter: Some warblers who concentrated on cabaret rooms have shifted their attention to jazz rooms. They’ve done so from expedience. At a time when the number of cabaret rooms around the country has been shrinking, they’ve had to make the lateral move in order to nail bookings. Whether that’s Vannatter’s tactic may or may not be, but as someone who’s always been among the best of the cabaret crooners, he’s made the transition smoothly. As evidenced here, he’s loosened up the sort of standards to which he’s always leaned while fronting several adroit musicians. Some of the songs are jazz-ready, and some may not sound as if they would be. The Hammerstein-Sigmund Romberg “Lover Come Back to Me” is one of the latter, whereas Billy Strayhorn’s “Something to Live For” is one of the former. Both come off beautifully in Vannatter’s hands and issuing from his smooth pipes. Perhaps the inspired track is a medley (mash-up is a more appropriate description) of Coldplay’s “Fix Me” with Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah.” Perhaps the jolliest track is his take on Bob Haymes’s “I Love My Bed.”
Despite ongoing critical acclaim, it has been about 15 years since vocalist DANE VANNATTER last released a new recording. In the interim, he has stayed busy, originally in the Boston area, and currently in Pittsburgh, with occasional forays to New York City. Now he has released Give Me Something Real (Self-Produced), an album that contains ten selections, six standards, “Lover Come Back to Me,” “Just Squeeze Me,” “But Beautiful,” “Blame It on My Youth,” “East of the Sun” and “Something to Live For,” with a medley pairing more contemporary material, Coldplay’s “Fix You,” and Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah;” an Al Green’s soul hit, “Let’s Stay Together;” “Give Me Something Real” a song written for the 1998 film Living Out Loud; and a Bob Haymes rarity, the whimsical “I Love My Bed,” showing that Vannatter is comfortable and effective when he strays from the world of standards. The program was recorded in two 2015 sessions, one in Massachusetts with pianist Fred Boyle, bassist Ron Ormsby, drummer Bart Weisman, trumpeter Steve Ahern, and saxophonist/flautist Bruce Abbot, and the other in Pittsburgh with Daniel May on keyboards, Eric Susoeff on guitar and Jon Evans on bass. Vannatter is a vocalist who gives his full attention to the lyrics that he sings, and he performs them with a smooth and flexible voice that is instantly appealing. It is good to have a new recording from Vannatter who is best described as a cabaret singer with a jazz/swing sensibility.
The Western Pennsylvania Conservancy is now accepting reservations for the annual Fallingwater Twilight Tour and Picnic Dinner. The event will be held on Saturday, August 27 at the world-renowned Frank Lloyd Wright house near Mill Run, Pa.
The Twilight Tour provides guests a unique opportunity to experience Fallingwater as the sun sets over the ridges of the Laurel Highlands. Guests will enjoy wine and hors d’oeuvres on the bridge outside the house and a leisurely, self-guided tour of the house. At twilight, a lantern-lit path will lead guests to a meadow, where they will enjoy live jazz featuring Dane Vannatter (vocals), Max Leake (piano), Tony DePaolis (bass), Thomas Wendt (drums), Mike Tomaro (sax) and Marty Ashby (guitar) while dining on a gourmet picnic dinner prepared by Fallingwater’s chef.
The Twilight Tour begins at 6:30 p.m. and the picnic and jazz performance starts at 8 p.m.
Tickets are available by advance purchase only and are tax-deductible. Western Pennsylvania Conservancy and Friends of Fallingwater members must make reservations via phone.
Proceeds from the event support the ongoing preservation of Fallingwater, one of Frank Lloyd Wright’s most acclaimed works and “One of 12 landmarks that will change the way you see the world,” according to Travel + Leisure magazine.
Tickets may be purchased by calling Fallingwater at 724-329-8501 or by visiting https://tickets.fallingwater.org.
Allegheny RiverStone Center for the Arts will welcome back by popular demand nationally acclaimed vocalist and recording artist, Dane Vannatter, on Saturday evening May 21, 7:00 PM. Foxburg’s Lincoln Hall will be aglow with candlelight and nightclub cabaret table-style seating, a perfect setting for a relaxing, romantic night out, enjoying this masterful entertainer and cabaret artist and his jazz trio of consummate musicians.
Performing songs from his recently released, celebrated fourth CD – Give Me Something Real – you won’t want to miss his inimitable style of intimate cabaret singing. “His voice has a floating quality that gets in your head and won’t leave…his music is a swinging, soaring adventure!” The Boston Globe
And be sure to wear your dancing shoes so you can take a spin with your sweetheart at the back of the hall. Wine and beer will be available by donation.
In his last visit to Foxburg Dane left the audience begging for more of his unique vocal artistry and sensitive interpretations of the classic American songbook. Dane’s singing runs the gamut of emotions, as he performs heartfelt passionate, humorous, joyous and touching songs that span seven decades. Once again, an outstanding trio of jazz artists will provide the background over which Dane will display his vocal palette of emotional colors.
The jazz trio backing Dane is composed of nationally-known jazz artists whose careers go beyond live performance into the areas of composition, movie scores, touring, recording and education. Joining Dane in creating musical magic in the intimacy of a Lincoln Hall’s acoustic and cabaret environment will be Daniel May (piano), Paul Thompson (bass) and sax superstar Mike Tomaro.
Enjoy a romantic night out enjoying smooth and grooving jazz in a candlelit night club style setting. With table seating for the cabaret, seating is limited, so be sure to reserve your tickets or your table early!
Adults: $25, ARCA Members $20, Students $5 Beer and Wine by donation.
To reserve tickets: 724-659-3153
“Vannatter is one of the most jazz-savvy cabaret singers around”. Boston Globe
Acclaimed by Carol Sloane of Concord Records as ‘my favorite among the new young male singers’, Dane Vannatter has been celebrated for his naturally beautiful voice and tasty jazz style. Montreal’s George Evans said, “Dane Vannatter makes it sound so easy – his style is so natural and his sound so free that one could get the mistaken impression that singing isn’t work to him at all, but as simple as breathing and just as organic.”
Dane Vannatter hails from Muncie, Indiana where his grandparents were Church of God ministers who traveled the country playing and singing for death row prisoners. He attributes his love of music to his grandmother, who lovingly taught him to play the piano and introduced him to the wonderful complexities of harmony. Equally influential in Dane’s early musical experience was his father’s love of jazz and masters of the song, such as Kay Starr and Billie Holiday. His father’s extensive and varied album collection provided the vehicle through which the young Dane began to learn and experience the art of interpreting song. Whether they use their talents in the popular or classical music genres, most singers begin to reach a vocal maturity in their late 20’s or early 30’s. It was at this age that Dane began to approach singing very seriously as a result of an invitation to participate in a contest in Boston.
Currently living in Pittsburgh, Dane has received Bistro awards for Outstanding Vocalist and for his recording, Flight, by the critics of BackStage in New York. He has been acclaimed by reviewers at The New York Post, The Boston Globe and BackStage for a style that “blends facets of cabaret and jazz with intelligence and care”.
The Boston Globe remarks: “Dane Vannatter’s distinctive style leaves an imprint on whatever music he sings. His voice has a floating quality that gets in your head and won’t leave…his music is a swinging, soaring adventure!”. He has been nominated for four MAC awards and has been a Nightlife Award finalist.
Dane has performed for several years at the annual Mabel Mercer Cabaret Convention at Town Hall in New York City and performed in venues nationally and internationally. In Pittsburgh, Dane has performed for the First Fridays at the Frick series and sings regularly at the Fairmont Hotel’s Jazz at Andy’s and James Street Gastropub & Speakeasy.
On July 31, 2015 Dane was called to the stage by Patti LaBelle during her concert in Columbus, Ohio. After hearing Dane sing and inviting him to duet on her classic “Lady Marmalade” Patti exclaimed “You better sing, fool. My God!.”
Dane is a gentleman with a particular passion for lending his considerable talents in support of such noble causes as pancreatic cancer research and the Adagio Health Organization, which serves more than 100,000 Western Pennsylvanians regardless of income or insurance.
Dane released his fourth CD Give Me Something Real in 2015.
A review of the CD in Cabaret Scenes follows:
January 31, 2016
Reviewed by John Hoglund for Cabaret Scenes
Many have asked, “Where are the torchbearers for the Great American Songbook today?” There are wannabes floating around who have gotten serious star attention that’s arguably not warranted (like Michael Bublé or Diana Krall who are not quite the real deal or bore), but have been lucky enough to be churned out like butter and packaged well. But, today’s cabarets and jazz clubs have some great singers who deserve a shot. Welcome Dane Vannatter, who has been kicking around Boston, New York and, more recently, Pittsburgh clubs for almost two decades and has built a loyal following. He’s someone the Concord or Telarc labels might consider, especially since there is a paucity of good jazz vocalists on the market today.
While there’s no magic formula to being a great singer, some just have what it takes. Vannatter fits that bill. Whenever this jazz/swing singer hits the stage, he is known for putting his best foot forward. He never disappoints. His fourth CD, Give Me Something Real, is no exception. His rangy jazz tenor caresses songs with ease. Insightful phrasing matches the quality of his full-voiced vocals, which remain flawless.
Unlike his previous three albums, this particular disc has a more personal touch as he blends etched-in-wood classics with contemporary story songs that soar. This is obvious on beautifully realized cuts like “But Beautiful” (Johnny Burke/Jimmy Van Heusen), “Blame It on My Youth” (Edward Heyman/Oscar Levant) and the album’s title cut from 1998 by Clark Anderson and Meryn Warren which stands out for its heartfelt clarity. These are sung with an intelligence and bright musicality that excels with every note. A lot of heart went into recording these gems. Kicking off with a strong bass line, the frolicsome “I Love My Bed” (Bob Haymes) is a refreshing lighthearted romp that’s given a terrific arrangement. He digs deep while retaining a strong drive on the Billy Strayhorn beauty “Something to Live For.” Such versatility only adds to the surprises on this disc that mixes the old and new. One of the CD’s most intense and trenchant cuts fuses the Coldplay hit “Fix You” (Chris Martin/Jonny Buckland/Guy Berryman/Will Chapman) with Leonard Cohen’s legendary “Hallelujah.” Joining these unique songs of shattered love and sadness is inspired, making for the album’s finest cut. They unfold a tale of wrenching drama and heartbreak in a stunning arrangement that is about riveting as it gets. Vannatter shows his level of interpretive gifts with these two formidable songs. The burnished bruise in his expressive, softer moments underscores a natural vibrato that is heartbreaking. This pairing is worth the price of the album alone, which is a hands-down winner by a singer who deserves more exposure and recognition.
The exceptional band is led by Fred Boyle (piano), with Ron Ormsby (bass), Bart Weisman (drums), Steve Ahern (trumpet), Bruce Abbott (sax/flute), Jon Evans (bass), Eric Susoeff (guitar) and Daniel May (keyboard).
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.
GIVE ME SOMETHING REAL
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.
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
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 WBAI.org 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.