Robert Davi Channels Ol’ Blue Eyes

Posted: November 6, 2011 by Dion in Music Review
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Like many, you may know Richard Davi as one of the two brothers who along with their Ma, harass a group of kids in The Goonies; he’s the super villain in License to Kill; the mob boss in Raw Deal; or Agent Johnson along with his partner Agent Johnson (no relation), in the original Die Hard. Along with much more, his film and television career is massive.

Well who knew that Mr. Davi has a completely different talent, one that could even give his acting career a run for its money. Davi has just released a 12 track LP titled “DAVI SINGS SINATRA – On the Road to Romance.” And wow is it good.

“I studied opera in Florence before I got into acting,” Davi told me when I spoke with him Friday. “Sinatra actually gave me my first movie role,” he said, “he hand picked me when I was 20 to be in Contract on Cherry Street in 1977.” Davi was quick to show me a picture on his blackberry of the two from the same year (understandably something anyone would be excited to show off at a moments notice), which also graces the inside of the album’s liner notes. 

Davi went on to do scores of movies and television shows, but always had a passion for singing. He always loved the American Songbook, and Sinatra especially; so decided to do a record to showcase his chops as a crooner. And boy does it swing.

We sat by a computer and listened to clips of the songs at “DavisingsSinatra.com”, as he went through each one, giving me insight into each recording.

He handpicked all the songs- had new arrangements done by the legendary Nic. tenBroek (who has worked with such greats as Nancy Wilson and Bobby McFerrin), and then teamed up with Sinatra producer Phil Ramone to help put the record together. They collected an impressive team of seasoned musicians, or “heavy cats” as Davi called them and recorded one of the most diverse collections of Sinatra songs put out on an LP in years.

What makes this record great is even though we have the uber-famous Frank songs such as “Witchcraft” and “The Best is Yet to Come”, Davi also dove deep into the Sinatra catalog and added such little known gems as “Here is that Rainy Day” and “Too Marvelous for Words”. The variety of songs really helps to display Davi’s vocal range and talents. He amazingly has an uncanny ability to sound like the man himself from the singer’s Capital and Reprise years, exuding the comfortable, silk elegance that fans came to know in Frank’s voice.

The genius thing about the album is in the choice of songs; we have the swinging standards we want to hear such as “Nice N’ Easy” or “I’ve Got the World on a String”; but we also have the saloon songs, as the great man himself called them, the torch songs that really helped cement Sinatra’s popularity across the board (and for full disclosure, the best series of albums the Chairman ever did in my opinion). Davi perfectly captures the sadness in “In the Wee Small Hours of the Morning” and the aforementioned “Here is that Rainy Day”. He slows down his version of “Summer Wind”, which I think works great for it’s impact (which by the way always escapes me; it is such a sad song, the guy lost his girl on “the summer wind” but it still gets played at every wedding I’ve been to that spins Sinatra; as if no one is actually listening to lyrics and the story in the song).

 Though don’t just take it from me – Davi has been garnering a truckload of praise for this release, in some very important places. Celebrated songwriter Ervin Drake who penned Sinatra’s “It Was a Very Good Year” attended a concert by Davi and was floored from what he heard. As was legendary vibe player Emil Richards, who toured with Old Blue Eyes for the majority of the 60’s into the early 70’s. He couldn’t believe the uncanny resemblance in voice and also in range and pitch.

Make no mistake, this isn’t just an actor trying to sound like the famed icon, this is someone who lets his classically trained voice shine and interjects his own nuisances and subtleties, as well as the warm, colorful tones his voice naturally exudes.

“I want to bring this music to the new generations,” Davi said. “(Sinatra) is really the only music that spans generations. People as old as 90 and children as young as 10 listen to him and can relate to the music. It’s ‘America’s Shakespeare’,” he exulted. “I want them all to swing.”

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