Born: November 8, 1959 Primary Instrument: Vocal
“Bringing The Great American Song Book into the 21st century”.
Dedicated to the preservation of one of Americas true art forms.
In another time and place, Jerry Costanzo wouldn’t be interpreting the Great American Songbook. It’s likely he’d be conceiving it. Midwest Record deemed the luminous vocalist and bandleader “A cat that knows how to swing it and grab the Vegas vibe that most of us never were old enough to experience,” while Jazz.com raved, “As all great singers do, he tells a story.” Raised in a musical family, Costanzo’s musical stencil was etched with the likes of Sinatra, Sammy, Dino, Perry Como, Count Basie, Mel Torme, Jerry Vale and Nat King Cole. He was playing saxophone by third grade, and developed chops as a performer studying acting at New York’s Herbert Berghof Studio. A stint as personal aid and chauffeur for Al Pacino further apprised Costanzo to the arts, before he joined his father Joseph’s big band, The Memories Of Swing, first on sax and then as the outfit’s lead vocalist. While well into his 30s before the New Yorker recognized his calling card ��bringing his musical idols back to life��Costanzo is making up for lost time. Today, the man behind the mic is a full-time troubadour and bandleader, surrounded by a Who’s Who of the jazz world. In 2008, his debut full-length album “Destination Moon,” produced by Andy Farber and accompanied by Farber & his Swing Mavens octet, served up a dozen swigin` classics, “Moon” earned Costanzo a dedicated live following, with gigs including the Annual Sinatra Birthday Bash at The Count Basie Theatre in Red Bank, N.J., Lincoln Centers Mid Summer Night Swing, New York’s Metropolitan Room, Feinstein’s at The Loews Regency and Waldorf Astoria, the Long Island, N.Y., Tilles Center for the Performing Arts, Hofstra University’s Artie Shaw Centennial Concert and dozens of concert series, festivals and private posh gigs up and down the East Coast. Costanzo’s follow-up disc, “Can’t We Be Friends”��released on Daywood Drive Records and executive/co-produced by Costanzo with acclaimed vocalist and composer Kevin Fitzgerald Burke�� raises the torch to fever pitch, featuring a five-piece rhythm section, that again pays homage to musical heroes who painted the original brush strokes on American standards, with a vibe he describes as “George Shearing meets The Nat King Cole Trio meets Milt Jackson.” In an interview with All About Jazz, Costanzo was asked to conjure his dream band. He joked, “They’re all dead. I wish I’d have been in my prime in the ‘30s, ‘40s and ‘50s.”No doubt, those who have influenced the music of Jerry Costanzo would offer a collective thumbs up for skillfully preserving their legacy. He is indeed breathing new life into a venerable chapter of America’s songbook.
Chuck Taylor served as a writer and senior editor at Billboard magazine for 14 years. He has appeared on CNN, ABC’s “20/20,” VH1’s “Behind the Music,” A&E’s “Biography,” and been quoted in the New York Times, USA Today and numerous publications about music.
April 18, 2011 DAYWOOD DRIVE RECORDS JERRY COSTANZO/Can’t We Be Friends?: With a mission to bring the American songbook into the 21st century, Costanzo surrounds himself with some very capable jazzbos and instrumentalists with resumes beyond reproach and casts himself as the saloon singer that makes you want to learn how to work your DVR. With a nice personality and style, he has a feel for swinging the classics just short of infusing them with schtick and keeping their integrity in tact. A really fun romp for vocal fans feeling the male side of the ledger is vastly underserved.
MIDWEST RECORD CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
June 1, 2011 Jerry Costanzo /Can’t We Be Friends? Daywood Drive Records
With a troupe of top-notch musicians on board, Jerry Costanzo has just released his sophomore album, Can't We Be Friends?, a must-have gem for Jazz aficionados and lovers of American standards alike. In fact, anyone who appreciates superlative instrumentalism combined with an inviting and believable vocal panache, will have everything they desire in this album. Behind Costanzo's confident, yet down- to-earth singing, is a clever, witty intonation that showcases his love of the music. This is noticeably evident on the title track, Can't We Be Friends? as well as on Perhaps, Perhaps, Perhaps (Quizas, Quizas, Quizas) where the listener can hear the enjoyment in Costanzo's voice. Penthouse Serenade (When We're Alone) is a transcendent piece that creates the perfect intimate mood, as does the shimmering Stairway to the Stars. Costanzo and his fabulous players bring the Jazz genre to life with a style that should be savored and enjoyed like fine wine.
~Lily Emeralde and Emma Dyllan Phosphorescence Magazine
CAN’T WE BE FRIENDS��Daywood Drive Records �� October 2011 Jazz Inside Magizine By Ryan Baker Word has it that the way things start out is the way they progress and the way they turn out. Or as I’ve heard it said about a person’s character, “At seven, like at 70.” In other words, the tell-tale signs are often there to giveaway what to expect �� good or bad. In the case of the new album Can’t We Be Friends, by vocalist Jerry Costanzo, all of the leading indicators point to a winner with a winning release in every way. Sure enough, from the opening notes of the medium groove first track, “East Of The Sun,” through the gentle closing of “Stairway To The Stars,” Costanzo delivers a set of consistently high-quality renditions of delightful standards and leads his band of cracker jack musicians through a series of compelling and delightful arrangements. Opening with an arrangement by Andy Farber featuring a catchy horn introduction - flute and trumpet on top �� the medium groove “East Of The Sun” is a showcase for the singer’s warm and robust sound, crisp articulation, and confident delivery. Some people mistake a relaxed and swinging tempo like this one, as somehow having less energy than something flying fast. Don’t. In the same vein that the ballad tempo renditions of Shirley Horn’s performances were sizzling with electrified energy in single notes, Costanzo’s performances have a certain indescribable energy that comes with maturity. His vocals are nicely complemented by the band and a modulation to a new key for Farber’s flute solo. Out of tempo, and accompanied by the gentle piano sounds of Tedd Firth, on “Can’t We Be Friends,” Costanzo opens with the verse of the song and quickly moves into a medium swinging rendition of this tasty swinger. Sherman on vibes, and Farber on tenor chime in with very brief solos �� that are ideally suited for this playful performance. In this album of standards, in an easily accessible acoustic setting, Costanzo performs both well-known standards, and a number of compositions that are not often on the agenda for most singers and instrumentalists. “Perhaps, Perhaps, Perhaps” is one of those rare gems. Costanzo opens it up with an easy-going kind of tango groove, which blossoms into a finger-snapping swing setting, including brief solos again by Sherman on vibes and Farber on tenor. One of the reasons that Can’t We Be Friends works so well is because Costanzo �� more than a superb, seasoned musician with a voice you want to hear �� is that he is an ace at pacing. He slows it down just right on “I Just Can’t See For Lookin.’” How do I know it’s just right? How will you know it’s just right? Just go to your body. Let your body talk to you. It’s easy to feel what feels good. Trumpeter Mike Carubia who has performed with an array of the great singers �� Tony Bennett, Vic Damone, Sammy Davis Jr. and others, translates that experience into three superb arrangements here: “Love Me Or Leave Me,” “Oh You Crazy Moon” and “Mean To Me.” Carubia writes some delicious ensembles on “Love Me Or Leave Me” �� maximizing the sounds of the group (flute, trumpet, guitar, voice) in the ensemble passages, blending these elements into a delicious, shimmering sound. “Penthouse Serenade” is one of those after midnight ballads. Costanzo takes you there on a magic carpet ride. He is at his best �� musically, expressively and delivering the lyrics with tip-top articulation, intonation and vibrato. Tedd Firth’s arrangement showcases George Shearing-like vibes, guitar, piano flute ensemble passages. Albeit brief, these ensemble passages provide the kind of moments that might best be characterized by the words “indescribably delicious” �� a tag line that used to be the trademark description in ads for Peter Paul Mounds candy bars. Costanzo moves into extreme ballad mood on “Oh You Crazy Moon.” This rarely performed chestnut, is by one of my favorite composing teams �� Johnny Burke and Jimmy Van Heusen. If you have any sensitivity in you whatsoever, Costanzo cuts right to your core, to your soul on this one, as he tells the story. The album wraps up with a magnificent rendition of the standard “Stairway To The Stars.” I’ve heard renditions by Coltrane, and one of my favorites is by Johnny Hartman. Costanzo takes this classic, delivers the lyrics warmly and wonderfully, and following Farber’s alto solo, he puts the final tender and beautiful touches on this song and on a colorful album of standards.
J September 22, 2011 Can’t We Be Friend’s? Daywood Drive Records Donny Harvey- MuzikReviews.com Staff
Can't We Be Friends is a fine recording of some really classic vocal standards. In particular, the instrumentalists do a fantastic job on this CD. Their solo and ensemble work, and even just the overall sound, are immaculate. “Perhaps, Perhaps, Perhaps” shows off the players well, from the very light, but also very tight, slightly Latin rhythms to the tenor sax solo that drips with feeling. It's all good! That brings us to the vocals, then...
Jerry Costanzo's vocals are good. He's a fine crooner. I'm afraid, though, that he just doesn't sparkle like I want the singer to do with this kind of music. To effectively sell these immortal tunes there has to be something really special about the singer, and here the singing is just good. I guess I find myself asking “Why would I get this recording when I can get singers like Tony Bennett or Frank Sinatra doing these songs?”
I'm a little confused by the subtitle of the album, too. “Bringing the American Songbook Into The 21st Century”? While these are all quite good recordings, I must say that I hear nothing that is overly different from the way they've been done before. They seem just as 20th century to me here as they did when they were first written. I suppose that if what Costanzo is meaning to do is simply introduce a new generation to these songs, then that makes since... Anyway, summing it up, this is a good CD. At times it's even great, but just not as great as when the Greats did them before. Why don't you fans of The American Songbook give it a listen and judge for yourselves?
Press Quotes: “Destination Moon” as of June 2009
Jazz Society of Portland by Kyle O'Brien Destination Moon, Jerry Costanzo, vocals.
Costanzo might be your talented Italian uncle who always sings at family gatherings. When he's not with family he's probably performing at jazz clubs, weddings and maybe a Vegas showroom or two. While I'm not sure that's the case with Costanzo, it certainly seems that way. Not that there's anything wrong with a singer who swings the American songbook with a big band, but ever since Sinatra and Dean Martin found this niche, they've been followed by plenty of guys trying to do the same. But Costanzo is a solid singer, honest and straightforward. Like Sinatra. This big band setting, backed by Andy Farber and his Swing Mavens, puts Costanzo in good company with his sincere delivery. There's an underlying sense of fun — you want to get up and dance, you want to join the party. There's a swagger that's needed when doing tunes from the jazz canon like Fly Me to the Moon, (cliched) and Come Fly with Me, (ditto). Luckily, Costanzo doesn't just go for the obvious tracks, though there may be one too many of those. He also finds gems like What Would You Do and I Thought About You. You can't hear this without smiling.
2008, Semi Quaver Jazz, 38:00.
Destination Moon Jerry Costanzo | Semi-Quaver Jazz (2008) By Jazz Review.com
Style: Big Band / Swing / Jazz
Review: Why cover some of the best singers ever with relaxed arrangements that don't even try to outshine the originals? Fly Me to the Moon without Sinatra, Basie or the Quincy Jones arrangement? And, sticking with the lunar, Destination Moon without Nat King Cole or Neal Hefti? There are reasons to give this one a pass.
And yet—it's hard not to like Jerry Costanzo and the amiable Andy Farber Swing Mavens octet. Costanzo has an unpretentious, good-natured voice and the arrangements slyly honor the originals. While campy, modern swing-style bands often miss the right feeling and weaken their cause with unexciting soloists, Farber, from subtle Basie-book quotes to the clever Star Trek reference at the end of Fly Me to the Moon, shows he understands, enjoys and respects the tradition. And there's isn't a throw-away solo on the album. Barry Pareschi, arranger Andy Farber and Dave Glasser are particular standouts.
To digress a bit, Glasser is an under-rated musician. He has one of today's most immediately recognizable alto-sax styles, more in the lyrical tradition of Benny Carter and Johnny Hodges than the Bird-related sounds of his harder-hitting contemporaries. (If you like him on this album, try Above the Clouds or one of the sessions he did with trumpeter Clark Terry.)
What Would You Do, is the only unfamiliar tune in the even dozen. The others were all hits for well-known male vocalists as much as 60 years ago. Nat Cole is the most frequent honoree. Costanzo occasionally even suggests him, especially when he nails the little burr Cole sometimes used at the bottom of his range. More often he has his own serviceable sound, in the style of big-band singers from the Swing Era. Winning on American Idol is out of the question, but that's not necessarily a bad thing.
Most of the tunes, even Don't Worry 'Bout Me, are done at cheerful medium or up tempos. I Thought About You and the concluding Young at Heart are romantic exceptions. No track is longer than four minutes leaving the full session under 40, definitely on the light side. In spite of that, I'll recommend this one to admirers of swing and the Great American Song Book. Bring back the 1960s!
Destination Moon Jerry Costanzo | Semi-Quaver Jazz (2008) By Woodrow Wilkins, All About Jazz
Many jazz listeners get anxious when a vocalist releases a new album of old songs. The songs are old, therefore they've been covered numerous times in numerous ways. The challenge, then, isn't just to make it good. A recording artist must also make it distinctive��something that catches the attention of those who have already heard Michael Buble, John Pizzarelli, and numerous others tap these resources. Vocalist and bandleader Jerry Costanzo attempts to do this with Destination Moon, a hit-'em-quick collection of classics.
A former personal chauffeur to actor Al Pacino, Costanzo is rooted in swinging pop music, largely from the 1950s and '60s. Costanzo and two supporting ensembles keep the action moving. Only one of the 12 songs is longer than four minutes. And with the music's up-tempo, swinging style, there's plenty to hear in a short time.
Costanzo brings a Sinatra-like quality as he leads. The title song is a delightful take on the song, once popularized by Nat King Cole. The horn section complements nicely. The band is featured more on What Would You Do. Costanzo's lead is excellent, but solos by Andy Farber (tenor sax), Brian Pareschi (trumpet), Dave Glasser (alto sax), and Wayne Goodman (trombone) help give this selection extra punch.
The horns again get some time out front on Come Fly With Me. Bassist Neal Miner and drummer Jimmy Madison are very involved in the background. Costanzo injects some sass in Straighten Up and Fly Right. The lyrics lend themselves to a humorous take, and Costanzo doesn't disappoint. Pianist Wayne Sabella scores with a solo.
The constants throughout Destination Moon are Costanzo's voice and sharp arrangements. He and the musicians get to the point. The album may not be distinctive enough to draw attention away from Buble or Pizzarelli, but it's a solid, all- around effort that doesn't disappoint. Jerry Costanzo at All About Jazz.
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MIDWEST RECORD CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher JERRY COSTANZO/Destination Moon:
The divas have been getting all the attention the last few years but here's a cat that knows how to swing it 50s style and could give Steve Tyrell and few pointers on how to sharpen it up to get his groove back. Working that tried and true Sinatra/50s vein, Costanzo and his swinging pals know how to grab the Vegas vibe that most of us have heard about but never were old enough to really experience. It's not a time piece, just a good time that doesn't try to recreate, but exist in it's own place bringing some authenticity along for the ride.
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Jazz Perspectives - Tom Hull Jerry Costanzo With Andy Farber and His Swing Mavens: Destination Moon (2004-07 , Semi-Quaver Jazz):
Costanzo is a vocalist, as dead a ringer for Sinatra as I've heard in many years — if anything, he makes it look easier, and the band helps in that regard. Repertoire has something to do with this: I Thought About You, Come Fly With Me, Young at Heart, Fly Me to the Moon; with all the flying he throws in one from Nat Cole: Straighten Up and Fly Right. Two sessions, separated by three years and quite a bit of turnover in the band. The edge goes to the later edition. B+(**)
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Jazz.com Reviewer: Walter Kolosky
I sort of feel sorry for male crooners who are not living in the right time. The first singer who comes to mind is Jack Jones. He has an outstanding voice and style. But the poor guy was born about 10 to 20 years too late for his own talent. Jerry Costanzo may be one of those guys too. Every once in a while a male vocalist overcomes modern preferences and breaks through like Harry Connick Jr. or Michael Bublé. But that is the rare exception and is based on a lot of marketing power.
So when I listen to Jerry Costanzo singing the standards with a very good swing-like jazz band, I just assume he is a happy fellow loving what he does and is satisfied to be in a niche in which he is admired by a small and sometimes aging group.
You can't hear Straighten Up and Fly Right and not think of Nat King Cole. He owns the song as performer and co-writer. There is a bit of Cole in Costanzo's version. But Costanzo is not a clone of Cole, Sinatra or any of those icons. His voice is smooth but has a slight gravelly quality. As all great singers do, he tells a story. The band, led by Andy Farber, is given an extended section on the piece which evokes the period nature of the music. The band is very good.
There is no doubt in my mind that if Costanzo was living his father's, or grandfather's, life he would have a greater opportunity at fame. There is also no doubt that in front of a nostalgic audience Costanzo wows. And I believe that a more contemporary crowd would also be won over by his talent and the swinging arrangements. I can say for sure he would have me tapping the table. Costanzo is a very good singer and stylist, and that should translate from any time frame to any other despite changing tastes. Rating: 85/100
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Jerry Costanzo with Andy Farber & His Swing Mavens: My Kind of Girl Reviewer: Mark Saleski JAZZ.COM
Walking a (very swinging) line between John Pizzarelli and An Innocent Man-era Billy Joel, singer Jerry Costanzo delivers a song with a loving nod back to the Rat Pack. I mean that in the best possible way. You might think that this kind of material has been done to death, and yet the robust swing of Andy Farber's Swing Mavens puts this far above schmaltz. Maybe it's in the subtle interactions between Costanzo and the horns. Maybe it's the cool-cat finger-snap/bass introduction ... or maybe it's that it almost makes me wish I was 21 again, opening that Billy Joel record and wondering what all the fuss was about. Rating: 86/100
Destination Moon Semi Quaver Jazz 2007 Track 1. I'm Gonna Live Till I Die Track 2. Destination Moon Track 3. What Would You Do Track 4. Fly Me To The Moon Track 5. I Thought About You Track 6. Come Fly With Me Track 7. Almost Like Being In Love Track 8. Cheek To Cheek Track 9. Don't Worry Bout Me Track 10. Straighten Up And Fly Right Track 11. My Kind Of Girl Track 12. Young At Heart Jerry Costanzo Vocals Andy Farber Tenor Sax, Arranger and producer Dave Glasser, Jay Brandford, Alto sax Dan Block, Kurt Basher, Baritone sax Brian Pareschi Trumpet Wayne Goodman Trombone Isaac Ben Ayala, Wayne Sabella, Piano Neal Miner, Jennifer Vincent, Bass Jimmy Madison, Stefan Shatez, Drums
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