Bill Zeffiro and Carole J. Bufford

Wednesday, 12/12/12, would have been Frank Sinatra’s 97th birthday.

Though he died in 1998, the night proved once again that Frank’s musical legacy is as fresh as tomorrow. Sinatra, as interpreted by a host of mostly young women and a few men, was definitely in the house.

Our East Coast “vacation” has had its high points, and the two evenings we’ve spent at part-time Telluride  local Frances Hill’s intimate Chelsea theatre, Urban Stages, are right up there. The theatre’s Winter Rhythms series benefits their education outreach program.

Bill Boggs, Sigali Hamburger

Program musical director and piano accompanist Bill Zeffiro opened the evening with a five minute piano overture composed of beautiful bits of the Sinatra songbook. Zeffiro told a story about playing at a club as a youngster, nervous because Frank was in attendance. When Sinatra left he stopped by the piano: “Pretty, Baby, pretty.”

Host for the evening was Emmy-winning TV personality Bill Boggs. He told a great story about being a new TV host who, having briefly met Sinatra in Las Vegas, invited “The Chairman” to appear on his show if he was in New York. Frank not only showed up, but gave the kid the longest interview he’d ever done. Boggs screened part of that interview at the end of the show, but first delivered a heart-felt rendition of “That’s Life.”

Gregory Generet

Gregory Generet did a powerful “What Are You Doing the Rest of Your Life” and Ronnie Whyte was stellar on piano and voice on “I Can’t Get Started” but the night belonged to the women.

They swung it, they did the ballads, the laments. And no one, men included, tried to imitate Sinatra. The Sinatra song list was all there, across the decades, but original without being “different” and I loved it all.

Karen Oberlin, Bill Zeffiro

We heard from Shaynee Rainbolt, Marissa Mulder, Carole J. Bufford, Valerie Lemon (a hat check girl at Sinatra hangout, Jilly’s, back in the day), Sigali Hamburger (who does a credible Ava Gardner and sang “I’m a Fool to Want You”), Terese Genecco (did a swingin’ “I’ve Got You Under My Skin”), Karen Oberlin, Stacy Sullivan (this Left Coast beauty pulled a switch: her “Peggy Lee” persona did “He’s a Tramp”), and Mary Foster Conklin (she represented the Sinatra/Bossa Nova connection with Jobim’s “How Insensitive”).

The whole night went from strength to strength, with the personal stories, the love of the music Sinatra made famous. The effect was to allow this long-time fan of Frank Sinatra to believe this music can go on forever.

The Performers

Thanks to Producer Peter Napolitano for making this show happen, a big thanks to all the artists, and thanks to Urban Stages for putting on this series. The last program in the series is Saturday, December 15, 2012.

The whole time I’ve been writing this I’ve been listening to Sinatra on shuffle. Great inspiration!


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