Fri, Oct 25, 2013.
Nova Scotia's been getting into the swing of things lately, thanks to native John Gracie. The veteran recording artists switched over to the sound during the past couple of years, for a live show, his Vintage Vegas set, all the tunes of Sinatra, Bennett, etc. He debuted the show back in 2011, and released a first CD, Live From The Flamingo: A Bennett, Sinatra Salute, in January of 2012. It turns out it wasn't a brief interlude. Live shows continued after that, and now we get a second disc, Fly Me To The Moon, again recorded live, this time at Casino Nova Scotia in Halifax.
While there's some repetition in cuts, the show is tighter than ever now, especially Gracie's delivery. He's fitting into the smooth vocal style well, and his own take on the standards has become evident. He's not Frank or Tony, but he's not trying to be either, he's just loving the music and presenting it his way. One For My Baby, for instance, becomes mainly a piano number, featured the keys of Paul Mason, less dark than Sinatra's version, more casual. Summer Wind has a cool arrangement as well, and a quicker pace, again Gracie with a lighter heart than 60's Frank.
The set list has been expanded past the Big Two, although it stills centres around Sinatra and Bennett. Here though are other well-known numbers from the era including Duke Ellington's Don't Get Around Much Anymore, the Eddy Arnold/Ray Charles country hit You Don't Know Me, and the precise, charming Nat King Cole number L.O.V.E. All through the 70-minute set, the playing is supurb, so let's give a shout out to the whole band: In addition to Mason on piano, there's Garth Proude on bass, Georges Hebert on guitar, Jeff Mosher has the sax, Ross Billard sits on the organ stool, and Damien Monihan keeps the beat. Gracie says he's not done swinging yet; there's a Christmas album ready for the future.
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Bob Mersereau has been covering music, and the East Coast Music Scene since 1985 for CBC. He's a veteran scene-maker at the ECMA's, knows where the best shows and right parties are happening, and more importantly, has survived to tell the tales. His weekly East Coast music column is heard on Shift on Radio 1 in New Brunswick each Wednesday at 4'45. He's also the author of two national best-selling books, The Top 100 Canadian Albums (2007) and The Top 100 Canadian Singles (2010).