With the release of their captivatingly titled debut album Bending the Standard: The Anthology, Dave Damiani & The No Vacancy Orchestra make once-old things fresh and new, turn tradition into timelessness and transform the musical masterpieces of eras gone by into suddenly hip, relevant and vibrant expressions of our current American moment.
Led by visionary Los Angeles based singer, songwriter, arranger, producer and bandleader Dave Damiani, the contemporary big band ensemble – known for years as “L.A.’s ultimate party band” – offers an expansive, 18-track set of artfully re-imagined Songbook standards, little covered pop rarities, colorful lyrical re-workings of Sinatra-associated treasures and a handful of Damiani originals that vibe seamlessly with the more familiar tunes. The collection’s lead single is a brisk, Latin-flavored stroll through “Come Fly With Me” that showcases the band’s bright, brassy immediacy and the singer’s slyly snappy phrasing. The track also features the pulsing foundation of legendary jazz drummer Peter Erskine.
As one of the city’s premier jazz multi-talents, Damiani has worked with and produced a wide array of popular artists. One of the ways he enjoys Bending the Standard is inviting well known musical friends to the party. He creates transcendent duets with contemporary jazz singer Spencer Day (“Please Be Kind”), “The Voice” alum and Postmodern Jukebox member Maiya Sykes (“Wives & Lovers”) and America’s Got Talent Season 6 winner Landau Eugene Murphy, Jr. (“East of the Sun – And West of the Moon”). Damiani takes the Quincy Jones arranger/producer role on “Bye Bye Blackbird” (featuring Renee Olstead on vocals) and “Come Home To West Virginia,” a showcase for Murphy’s extraordinary vocal talents. The Damiani- penned tribute to Murphy’s home state was used to raise over $1.5 million to help regional flood victims in 2016.
In addition to putting his unique stamp on Sinatra affiliated songs like “Taking a Chance on Love,” “(How Little It Matters) How Little We Know,” “That’s All” and “On the Sunny Side of the Street,” Damiani cleverly and humorously refashions the lyrics to “The Tender Trap” (“The Tinder App”) and “Come Fly With Me (LA Version),” which pays homage to the city’s quirky personalities, sports teams, culinary delights and hangouts. This track is one of several on Bending the Standard to spotlight remarkable American locales. “Manhattan” begins with the orchestra swinging on “New York, New York” before the singer romps through Rodgers and Hart’s “We’ll Take Manhattan,” complete with a riff on the end that includes a “Hamilton” reference. “It’s Pure Ac – Atlantic City” is an ode to the famed city and deep musical history, centered around the historic 500 club, where Martin & Lewis got their start and legends like Frank, Nat and Elvis once held court.
Of course, the first person we think of when we hear Damiani sing the soaring words of “Come Fly With Me” is Ol’ Blue Eyes, but he’s earned the praise and endorsement of the Sinatra family precisely because he doesn’t try to, as he says, “be Frank or imitate him in any way, but pay homage” by finding deeper historical and emotional reasons for recording songs indelibly connected to him. Damiani’s music, including tracks from his previous solo albums Watch What Happens (2013) and Midlife Crisis (2015), has been a staple these past years on Siriusly Sinatra, a pop standards-oriented channel (71) on Sirius XM Radio. He has both hosted the weekly segment “Playing Favorites” and been featured on the show with special guest, comedian Joe Piscopo.
Over the years, Damiani & The No Vacancy Orchestra have performed for Leonardo DiCaprio, Larry King (50th Anniversary in show business), Tommy Lasorda (90th Birthday party), Ryan Seacrest, Gene Simmons, David Spade, David Hasselhoff, Jack Klugman, CBS Television, Rupert Murdoch (engagement party at the Wynn Hotel), FOX Television, Wolfgang Puck, Oliver Stone, Ridley Scott, The Beverly Hills Hotel, The Four Seasons, The Ritz Carlton and many other celebrities and legendary entities.
Dave Diamani & the No Vacancy Orchestra will be touring in the Summer of 2018, kicking off July 7 at The Bourbon Room in Atlantic City. Their tour will include performances at Dante Hall in Atlantic City, Birdland in NYC, Bethesda Blues & Jazz (Bethesda, MD), The Blue Room at the Waldorf Astoria in New Orleans and the Hard Rock in Biloxi, MS.