Bobby Caldwell Opens The Great American Songbook For Centenary College’s “Jazz In January” Series

Posted by Maria Miaoulis in Jazz Events

January 23rd, 2011   Comments Off on Bobby Caldwell Opens The Great American Songbook For Centenary College’s “Jazz In January” Series

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World-famous singer Bobby Caldwell performed classic jazz standards for his home city of Hackettstown. PHOTO CREDIT: NJskylands.com

The JazzvilleNJ crew came out of hibernation this weekend to take a stroll down nostalgia lane courtesy of Bobby Caldwell and His 14 Piece Big Band. The world-famous singer appeared in his home city of Hackettstown on Saturday, January 22, as part of Centenary College’s Jazz in January series to perform the popular jazz standards that have come to be known as The Great American Songbook.

With hits like “Fly Me to the Moon,” “Day In, Day Out,” “I Only Have Eyes For You,” “Come Rain or Come Shine,” “The Best Is Yet To Come” and “Beyond The Sea,” Caldwell channeled the swagger of the Rat Pack and the spirit of Frank Sinatra for the sold-out crowd. His crooning and “interpretive dance,” a series of passionate gestures and exchanges with the talented musicians sharing the stage with him, transported us back to this classic era where the music spoke for itself, without all the distractions and special effects that consume the industry today.

I certainly wasn’t expecting how down-to-earth and forthcoming Caldwell would be about his personal life. We laughed as he told us about the newest addition to his family, an English bulldog puppy named Stella that leaves surprises for him around the house. He shared his struggles to get started in the music business in the 1970’s. Caldwell’s big break came a few days after his mom read a newspaper article about KC and the Sunshine Band and suggested he visit their record company near his home Miami where he lived at the time. He also joked that the real reason he supports his daughter’s Broadway dreams is that “someone’s eventually going to have to support me.”

Caldwell told the audience that he grew up in Sinatra and Fitzgerald headquarters, so it was “genetically impossible” for him not to embrace the genre. With that we thought he wouldn’t perform his timeless R&B number “What You Won’t Do For Love.” But he surprised us all by putting a jazz spin on it, making it the highlight of the evening.

Earlier in the show he admitted he was a little nervous to perform for his hometown, telling his wife, “I’d better be damn good because I’m going to be seen after this.” I’m sure the fact that the crowd demanded an encore at the end proved we thought he was. No one will be giving him a hard time when they next see him in the fruit aisle.

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