Classic Performances — The Men

For a project that I may have coming up, I wanted to define a dozen iconic song performances in the “American Songbook” style.  That way, if teaching for example, one can say, “Could you give it a little more Peggy Lee cool?” and someone might know what you’re talking about.  I’ve tried to limit it to the root of a style, so we have Sinatra but no Tony Bennett, Louis Armstrong so no Louis Prima, etc.  And I restricted it to performances that were available on YouTube because I belive you have to watch performances, not just hear vocals.   Looking forward to comments about people who are questionable on the list and who has been unfairly disregarded.

6 Responses to Classic Performances — The Men

  1. Michael! This is a fabulous project. You’ve assembled a master class for us here and I will be a devoted student, watching and considering each, one at a time. Sinatra first. Infected by the opinions of people in my past, I can’t help but get the feeling from him that it’s his world, we just live in it and that we are breathing HIS air. But, there’s no escaping his COMMAND and MASTERY. He owns that song and everything about it and everything about the situation he is in (audience, orchestra, cameras). Though at least some percentage of his command is the result of God-given charisma, he doesn’t just own the music and the situation because someone gave it to him. The fact is he EARNED his command and mastery of the music and the situation. He studied, he worked, innnovated and performed, he climbed from the bottom to the top. Nobody did that for him. He did that himself. My take away: whatever command I have or don’t have, is, to some large percentage, in my own hands to earn or not to earn.

  2. […] Michael has assembled a list of videos of classic performances for the purposes of using them as touch points for performers and as examples of those who have mastered their craft to the point of being icons.  He explains the focus and mission of the list and shares the first half of the Classic Performances video samples (The Men), here: […]

  3. Jilly says:

    Thank you, dear Michael. What a gift.
    And Emily–so astute, so gracious.

  4. Kathy Reilly says:

    I enjoyed viewing these old clips and reminiscing since I grew up with all of these singers on TV at one time or another. Jolson was the only one I did not recognize but his first note gave him away. I really liked his style on this video and he really enjoyed his performance.

    They are all great iconic performers and were very important singers in their particular era. Emily’s note on Frank is spot on and I’ve always liked him more on recordings when he wasn’t so obviously enthralled with himself. I wish I would’ve seen him live.

    Louis Armstrong and Fred Astaire were each one-of-a-kind(s). Louis and his trumpet and wonderful vocal delivery and Fred’s grace in movement which drove his singing. Each had a unique but not a great voice. Their particular style was what was exceptional and their mastery of their art.

    Bing Crosby was always the same for me whatever he did. I was never a fan but my parents were. He had timing for sure.

    Nat is my favorite of this group and not because of this particular selection, which made me laugh with the old fashioned staging and back up singers. He fit perfecting into the romantic mood of the 50’s with his lovely voice and quiet grace.

    I saw Elvis perform once and although I was not a huge fan before seeing him, he won me over. He was charming, almost low key and he had a beautiful baritone voice.

    This was enjoyable. I cannot wait for the ladies.

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