Bryan Anthony
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Bryan Anthony

New York City, New York, United States

New York City, New York, United States
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Bryan Anthony - A Night Like This 4/4
O's Notes: Bryan sings with a warm vibrato over fourteen standards arranged by pianist Gary Norian who also contributes three originals. Anthony sings "Secret Love" soaring on top of a prancing bass line from Thomas Helton. The warmth he breathes into "April In Paris" typifies the freshening of the standards on this CD. Joel Fulgham rounds out the band that provides excellent support. This is young talent making old songs new!
- O's Place Jazz Magazine


Still a youngish cat, this jazz vocalist took time off from school in the late 90s to tour with Glenn Miller, Tommy Dorsey and Nelson Riddle Orchestras giving him a special cred to tackle the Great American Songbook classics. Bringing his own style to the fore with a sympathetic, swinging trio bringing up the rear, the special sauce he brings to the proceedings is simply an ease with and understanding of these tunes. It's easy and intimate without an ounce of lounge schmaltz or bombast just letting the music speak for itself. This guy's got it. Check it out. - Midwest Record


A Night Like This, Bryan Anthony, vocals.?
Call him a throwback: a singer with musicality strong enough to be placed in the jazz camp, but at the same time, a singer who finds his inspiration in the Great American Songbook. There aren't many in that camp. Especially men. But that pretty much describes Anthony. And the good news is that he backs it all up with a very expressive, "this is easy to do" sort of voice. With a trio led by superb Houston pianist Gary Norian, Anthony is sleek and on target on such standards as "They Can't Take That Away From Me," "April In Paris," "I'm Confessin'," "The Song Is Ended," "What'll I Do," and perhaps the surprise of the set, a nearly forgotten gem that Frank Sinatra once caressed his way through called "Sleep Warm." At the very least, it suggests that Anthony has done his homework. To these and others, add three original melodies from pianist Norian. It all adds up to a fetching, often romantic outing from a singer who "gets it" and puts it across with charm and sincerity.?Mercator Music, 2011.
- Jazz Society of Oregon


August 2, 2011

(Mercator Media)

?Featuring vocalist Bryan Anthony, one of the really great young crooners to come along in quite some time, in combination with solid trio of musicians in the Gary Norian Trio, makes A Night Like This a truly pleasurable listening experience. The album is a nice mix of originals (mostly penned by Norian) and standards and moves nicely among swing and ballad arrangements. Anthony sounds like a singer who really put in the time to become the confident lead vocalist that we hear on this project. The band which is comprised of Gary Norian on piano, Thomas Helton on bass and Joel Fulgham on drums and percussion is in top form as well. This is a recording to check out — and thoroughly enjoy.
- Thejazzpage.com – If it’s here, it should be in your collection


Many singers long to be the next Frank Sinatra, but if Ol’ Blue Eyes were alive today, I’m sure he’d want to be the next Bryan Anthony.

Anthony, who started singing in church choirs and school musical productions, is a velvet-voiced crooner whose tone touches the innermost spaces of your soul. He inhabits the music and makes is come to life with vivid storytelling and elegant phrasing.

“I was always drawn to jazz and the American Songbook,” Anthony said. “When I sang or heard these songs, I felt a deep connection to the timeless sentiment of the lyrics and beautiful, simple melodies.”

I first met Anthony in Houston, TX. He was performing at City Centre – a mixed use development with shops, restaurants, and cafes. I noticed that few people were actually listening to the music – they were throwing balls, running through the courtyard, and having private conversations. I wondered how they could be so oblivious to Anthony’s voice and top notch band. Despite all of the distractions, Anthony remained a consummate professional.

“At a venue like City Centre, you go in knowing that you’re not playing at an intimate jazz club,” Anthony said. “I always try to give a great performance to the ones who want to listen. You never know who might be in the audience on any given night, so I always give 100%. “

If you listen to his new CD, 'A Night Like This,' you will agree that Anthony does in fact give his all. The album treats listeners to a colorful mix of jazz standards and original songs. But the star of the album is Anthony’s voice.

“Obviously, I been influenced by the singers and musicians who came before me,” Anthony said. “But I have really sought to find my own voice in this music and I believe that I finally have. When I perform, I try to create an intimate atmosphere and tell the stories that are in these songs. The greatest compliment that anyone can pay, is simply that I sound like me. My everyday living, both the good and the bad are what I like to pour into my music. ”

Six String Theories: Tell me about your new album, A Night Like This.

Anthony: The approach on this project was to blend the deep tradition of classic American songwriting with a modern harmonic and rhythmic palette, re-imagining these songs and breathing new life into them.

Six String Theories: How did you select the songs for this album?

Anthony: Gary Norian, my pianist, and I have worked on this record for the past few years. The songs we chose came from both the familiar and unfamiliar American Songbook repertoire. I always try to record some of the lesser know tunes like Sleep Warm and The Song is Ended to introduce these forgotten gems to a new audience or maybe have people listen to these songs in a whole new light.

Six String Theories: Describe your relationship with Gary Norian.

Anthony: I have always enjoyed working with Gary and his trio. Gary and I work well together and we’re always on the same page musically. That musical relationship between pianist and singer is of the utmost importance. I feel Gary and I certainly hold a special musical relationship that is not often found. With Gary’s arrangements, the band is always thinking and on their toes, it really keeps the whole thing alive and breathing.

Six String Theories: Tell me about the three original compositions: A Night Like This, Your Dreams Are on Their Way, and The One I Adore Most.

Anthony: Back in the 1930’s and 1940’s, times were different, colloquial language was different, and musical styles were certainly different. Yet, human emotion remains the constant. The song forms of yesteryear still remain a viable vehicle for the expression of these emotions. So we posed the question, “Could new songs like these still be written?” This question became Gary’s challenge to himself. He crafted three beautiful songs that acknowledged the previous eras and songwriters while adding a touch of contemporary flavor. Gary wrote A Night Like This especially for me. Knowing the nuances of my voice, the kind of songs I like to sing, and what I can do best, he wrote a song that gives me the opportunity to really display my talent. I also like the song’s story. It describes a first date from start to finish. The One I Most Adore was written for Gary’s wife as a 10th anniversary gift. It is a fantastic song with a great melody and lyric. Your Dreams Are On Their Way was written as a lullaby for Gary’s young daughter. She has memorized the song and often has Gary sing it to her at bedtime. I guess it works.

Six String Theories: You have two of my favorite songs on this album, They Can’t Take That Away and How Deep is the Ocean. What was your personal spin on these songs?

Anthony: We took a dark and moody interpretation of the Gershwins, They Can’t Take That Away from Me. I’m especially proud of that one. I’ve never heard it done that way before—not that it hasn’t, but not that I’m familiar with. The few months before these sessions were a tumultuous time in my life, and I was doing my best to channel the different emotions I was feeling into all of these songs. But that one was especially therapeutic. Irving Berlin’s How Deep Is The Ocean, has long been a favorite of mine after hearing Sinatra do it with Nelson Riddle on his 1960 release Nice n’ Easy. Gary’s arrangement has a “never ending” style to it that you can hear after I finish the singing.He keeps playing after I finish singing to emphasize that the love goes on and on and never really ends although we had to fade it out at some point.

Six String Theories: How do you memorize so many lyrics? Do you ever forget lyrics?

Anthony: That’s a good question that I ask myself sometimes. It’s funny how I sometimes can’t remember what I did yesterday, but I can recall thousands of lyrics. I guess some folks are better equipped with some parts of the brain than other parts. Yes, I do forget lyrics on occasion. Once I was onstage with the Glenn Miller Orchestra and I was singing a song I had sung many times before, but when it was time for me to come in at the top of the song, I couldn’t remember the first line to save my life. That was a bad feeling. Thankfully that doesn’t happen too often.

Six String Theories: How do you take jazz standards and make them relevant for today’s listeners?

Anthony: I think that being true to the music is the best way to find an audience for it. You’re not going to get someone to like this music who doesn’t appreciate the music at its core. I think there is a void to fill for this music. I know that there is an audience out there that seems willing to buy up acts like Michael Buble and harry Connick, Jr., but there is enough room for another purveyor of this music. I think the emotional investment in the melodies and lyrics are the key to these songs. If I can relate to these songs, I know others can also relate to them. As with classical music, you don’t have to be 300 years old to appreciate the sentiments in the arias and art songs. The aspects of love and human emotion are the bridge between generations.

Six String Theories: Do you think jazz is a dying art?

Anthony: I think jazz is an certainly an art. From its inception, jazz has been an underground culture; not only the music, but also the lifestyle. Like all art, some are more accepted in the mainstream forum than others. I think jazz is one of those art forms that is more cerebral and deep than most people care to comprehend. But that is what makes the music great. On one level, it can be very deep with harmonic complexities and meter, but at the same time, it can also be enjoyed on a level that makes it accessible to the masses.

Six String Theories: Do you find that European audiences are more receptive to jazz than American audiences?

Anthony: I think European audiences are more receptive to avant-garde jazz than American audiences. There are many avant-garde European jazz musicians as well. In Europe, pushing jazz to new extremes is something that comes naturally. The European players don’t have to keep the flame burning for the traditional jazz that came out of America. They can push it into new directions as they see fit to really carve out their own niche, and there certainly seems to be more of an audience for it over there than here on our shores.

Six String Theories: When we talked, you said you were having a hard time finding gigs. Why is that?

Anthony: In this business, when people are unaware of you, it is very difficult to get in the door. There are a lot of mediocre singers out there that people have to deal with everyday and I think that gives talent bookers a hard exterior that is difficult to get past. What is very frustrating for me is dealing with restaurant managers for club dates who don’t have a clue about music. Unfortunately, they seem to hold the key to musicians’ livelihoods and if they don’t like your style of music, it’s hard to get a decent gig. It doesn’t matter that you have been studying music for years both in school and on the road. All that matters is their opinion of you.

Six String Theories: Tell me about your most satisfying live performance?

Anthony: I guess I would have to say it was a few months back when we played at the Hobby Center in Houston. I had my family and friends in the audience and we debuted the songs from A Night Like This. I am very excited about this record and I know that all the hard work that everyone put into it will pay off.

by Mocha Dad
- Sixstringtheories.com


Many singers get lost when they explore the Great American Songbook. The works can be so unimaginatively presented, they become studies in boredom. Bryan Anthony avoids that well in "A Night Like This," an album filled with well-known songs such as "Stardust," "I'm in the Mood for Love," "How Deep is the Ocean" and "April in Paris." He does them all with sincerity and a pleasant baritone. That produces good results on "They Can't Take That Away From Me" with a speed that gives the George and Ira Gershwin song a darker sound than usual. His version of "April in Paris" starts the same way before moving to a slightly brighter tempo. Not only is his presentation good, but his voice is strong and mellow, giving the songs great life. The album also gets good work from pianist Gary Norian, who has mastered the art of accompanying a singer. Norian wrote the title track and another song.

— Bob Karlovits
- PITTSBURGH TRIBUNE


By DAN BILAWSKY, Published: July 18, 2011

It would be easy to give a pass to vocalist Bryan Anthony if he had wanted to do a no-surprises take on standards. Anthony has become something of an expert in the art-of-the-old, having occupied the vocalist chair in various ghost bands like the Glenn Miller and Tommy Dorsey Orchestras, but he clearly isn't content to simply interpret the Great American Songbook with a decades-old layer of musical dust lying at the surface. With his mellifluous vocals gliding atop fresh arrangements, Anthony puts a new coat of paint on these pieces, simultaneously lending them a timely and timeless quality.
Love, in all its complexity, is the topic of choice on this record, and Anthony plays the role in each song to perfection. Youthful zest and the thrill of possibility reside in some of these pieces, while an "I let her get away and I've only got my memories" attitude appears elsewhere. The program leans heavily on surefire winners from the likes of Cole Porter, Irving Berlin and other classic songsmiths, but Anthony also sneaks a few simpatico originals from pianist Gary Norian into the mix. "Your Dreams Are On Their Way" is a wonderful lullaby that would have been perfect for Bing Crosby, had Norian been around back then, while the "here's to my girl" theme of "The One I Most Adore" is just as good as any of the set's certified classics.

The relationship between Anthony and Norian is central to the success of this music, as both men seem to meld their musical and emotional sensibilities into a single entity. In some places, there are references to Frank Sinatra and Bill Miller, while other pieces bring to mind the Kurt Elling-Laurence Hobgood connection or, as Francis Davis mentions in his liner notes, the pairing of Tony Bennett and Bill Evans. They mine Norian's originals for all that they have to offer, but their slow journey through "They Can't Take That Away From Me" is the standout vocal-piano collaboration. Both men peel back the excessive musical pleasantries that often surround this song, bringing greater emotional weight to a number that has been done ten thousand times, but never quite like this.

Other likeable surprises—an odd-meter appearance on "I'm Confessin" and double-time excursions on "Secret Love"—keep things fresh, as Anthony entertains all of love's offerings. Relative youth and the voice of experience rarely arrive in a single package, but Anthony appear to be the rare exception, and his vocal talents—ever-present throughout this album—deserve to be heard by a larger audience. He's simply too good to ignore.

Track Listing: I'm In The Mood For Love; A Night Like This; Secret Love; They Can't Take That Away; April In Paris; I'm Confessin'; Stardust; This Is All I Ask; How Deep Is The Ocean; Your Dreams Are On Their Way; The Song Is Ended; What'll I Do; So In Love; The One I Most Adore; Falling In Love Agin; Sleep Warm; A Night Like This [Encore].

Personnel: Bryan Anthony: vocals; Gary Norian: piano; Thomas Helton: bass; Joel Fulgham: percussion.

Record Label: Mercator Media
- Allaboutjazz.com


Discography

A Night Like This (2011)
Bryan Anthony - Live On Tour (UK only 2007)
Songs For Dreamers (2006)
Look At Me Now (2001)

Photos

Bio

Bryan Anthony isn’t worried about musical labels. Whether you call him a jazz singer with pop sensibilities or a pop vocalist steeped in jazz, he’s staked his artistic identity in the vast and beloved collection of songs that emanated from Broadway, Hollywood and Tin Pan Alley in the first half of the 20th century. His new album A Night Like This is the work of a performer with the personality, technique, and panache required to inhabit the music of Gershwin, Berlin, Jimmy McHugh, Vernon Duke, and the other ingenious tunesmiths responsible for the American Songbook.

The album pivots around Anthony’s creative partnership with pianist Gary Norian, whose beautifully crafted arrangements and sensitive accompaniment reveal a major-league talent. Most delightful is the way they recast familiar tunes by uncovering obscure verses. On Sammy Fain and Francis Paul Webster’s Academy Award–winning “Secret Love,” the verse, normally performed in a reserved rubato style, in this case has a swinging intensity that sets up a tale of romantic discovery, with Anthony perfectly evoking pulse-quickening amorous excitement as he accelerates into the line “once I had a secret love.” On Vernon Duke and Yip Harburg’s “April in Paris” they create the opposite effect, using the verse to deepen the song’s deliciously brooding mood of melancholy.

Not that Anthony needs a verse to make a song his own. He swings briskly through “The Song Is Ended,” a tune usually taken at a deliberate tempo. Most arresting is his ballad interpretation of “They Can’t Take That Away,” which he transforms into a dangerous, almost-obsessive noir-tinged journey.

The unfamiliar verses add a jolt of drama in another way as Norian contributes three original pieces that blend imperceptibly into the program. At first it’s not clear whether a song that sounds like a lost outtake from a 1940s Sinatra session for Columbia, like the lustrous ballad “Your Dreams Are on Their Way,” is a standard with an obscure verse or a new tune that captures the era’s sparkling wit and melodic inventiveness. For Anthony, Norian’s songs provide a bridge to the contemporary material that he’s been exploring though has yet to document.

Much like Frank Sinatra and Tony Bennett, popular artists who were inextricably linked to jazz while not belonging wholly to the scene, Anthony has honed an approach based upon jazz’s rhythmic fluidity but that doesn’t depart from the essential melodies. He’s not a scat singer who uses songs as launching pads for extended improvisation. Rather, he improvises around the edges, extending a syllable to emphasize a phrase, or pausing to underline a feeling. Male jazz singers are already an endangered species, but Anthony exists in a rarefied realm between musical factions that eye each other warily.

Born Bryan Anthony Montemarano in Santa Rosa, California, on August 28, 1977, Anthony grew up outside Houston, Texas, where he sang in church choir and grade school vocal ensembles. In high school he got involved in musical theater, but experienced an epiphany when a friend gave him a copy of Sinatra’s greatest hits from his Reprise years. While seeking out more Sinatra recordings, he got turned on to the jazz vocal pantheon, from Joe Williams, Tony Bennett, and Chet Baker to Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughan, and Carmen McRae. In 1995 he enrolled at Manhattan School of Music to study classical voice, then went on to earn a master’s at NYU in jazz and studio music.

Anthony hadn’t gotten far in his academic career before he landed his first major gig in 1997 when the Glenn Miller Orchestra hired him for a tour. He ended up taking a leave of absence from school that allowed him to keep his scholarship, and spent a year on the road crooning some of the best-loved standards in the American Songbook, including “At Last” and “The Nearness of You.”

As his reputation spread, Anthony became a first-call big band vocalist. He sang with the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra under the direction of trombone legend Buddy Morrow, who shared stories of going out on the road with Dorsey in 1938. Anthony released his first album in 2000, "Look at Me Now," an impressive session he expanded and re-released in 2006 as "Songs for Dreamers." In between, the Nelson Riddle Orchestra came calling, a plum gig that offered Anthony the best showcase yet, with its treasure trove of arrangements written for Sinatra, Nat “King” Cole, and Dean Martin. He continues to work with the Riddle Orchestra, where his gift for putting his own stamp on classics prevails.

Listening to A Night Like This, there’s no mistaking Anthony for anyone else. He’s clearly imbibed the jazz/pop vocal tradition, and he’s succeeded in his mission to find himself in the music. Whether backed by a brass-laden big band or an intimate piano trio, Anthony knows that like America itself the American Songbook thrives when it’s constantly being reinvented. •

Bryan Anthony: A Night Like This
(Mercator Media)