From the three “Ocean’s Eleven” movies to “Mad Men” on TV and multi-format success from the likes of Harry Connick, Jr. and Michael Buble, the continuing fascination with Rat Pack from ’60s era Las Vegas is at a fever pitch.
Angelo Babbaro, at first-glance may seem like another Frank Sinatra-style manifestation, but in reality, he possesses a singularly unique vocal talent.
He may well borrow from Rat Pack-like fixtures such as Sinatra or Dean Martin but in truth, he is another gigantic new talent.
Sinatra, the Chairman of The Board, as he was known in his Rat Pack Days, once famously said, If you can play Youngstown, Ohio (which launched the iconic careers of both Perry Como and Martin), you can play anywhere!’
Babbaro knows what he’s talking about. He was born in the former steel city in 1965, and was captured by its gritty past as a major industrial center.
“Sometimes I think I was born too late,” he says. The Stetsons, the overcoats, the triving city, the work ethic, the respect, the music.”
He plans to take Manhattan by storm early next year, but we caught up with him first.
He sat down with The Improper recently to talk about how he journeyed from a career as a retirement planner to the stage, where he’s gaining a reputation for his ability to croon the classics, the songs Frank, Dean, Perry and others sang.
IM:You ’re fascination with the Sinatra/Rat Pack-era is palpable. What’s your take on it?
Babbaro: Sometimes I think I was born too late. That era was and is timeless. The Stetsons, the overcoats, the work ethic. It had an attitude and a style of its own. When I sing, I feel like I’m kind of visiting, per say.
IM:You were born in Youngstown, Ohio in 1965. A generation before the likes of Sinatra, Dean Martin, and Perry Como came into vogue. How did you find them?
Babbaro: That music was played nonstop in my house and my grandparents house, too — usually in the kitchen. It must have it got into my blood and then it totally captivated me. By the way, both Dean and Perry were discovered in Youngstown.
IM: Producer Gary Rhamy has been a sound engineer for over thirty years and produced over 500 albums. You called and what happened after that?
Babbaro: I was taking a shot. I went into the studio one day and sang “Just in Time.” When I was done, he hit the talk button and said, ‘what took you so long?’ (laughs)
IM: Rhamy’s studio, where he produced five Grammy Award winning albums; Peppermint must have had some impressive historical lineage?
Babbaro: It does. Gary has worked with the likes of Maureen McGovern, Sergio Mendez and pop groups like the Left End and Blue Ash … so, yes, there’s a great vibe there.
IM: So what did you record with Rhamy?
Babbaro: We did ten tracks for a promotional release, sent it out and the response has been overwhelming. We’re heading towards the East Coast in January, do a bunch of promo dates and secure a recording situation.
IM: Since your presentation is very much live, I would assume you’ll have to work with musicians from the East Coast, right?
Babbaro: We’re going to work with a terrific contractor there, Victor Kastel. He’ll find best musicians possible. You know, it’s like a football team … each part is integral.
IM: There very definitely seems to be resurgence in artists like yourself; from Michael Buble and Michael Feinstein to Harry Connick and Diana Krall.
Babbaro: What Michael Buble has done, for all of us, has been nothing short of spectacular. There’s something you get from live music that you can’t get from anywhere else. To be there, to be part of the performance, it’s the real deal.
IM:You manager just told me that you’ve just recorded a new song, “That Face.” Tell us about the lineage of that one.
Babbaro: It was last spring and there was the energy I was feeling. I was looking for something fun. A little light-hearted. “That Face” had the perfect mix of upbeat lyrics and the orchestra pops. It’s a feel good song.
IM:I know you love New York. What do you like the most?
Babbaro: The city that never sleeps … I love it all!