Christian Josi
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Christian Josi

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The best kept secret in music


"Pop Quiz"

"Christian Josi has released 'Alive & Swingin'...the freshest release of the year." - Washington, DC City Paper

"The Jazz Singer"

"...listeners should have no problem recognizing the voice, mainly because of its uncanny similarity to that of Hoboken, N.J.'s most famous son.

"He sounds like Frank Sinatra," gushed ex-Rep. Bob Livingston (R-La.), a newly converted Josi enthusiast.

- The Hill

"Josi Jazz"

We've been keeping an eye on the revival of former American Conservative Union Executive Director Christian Josi's career as a jazz singer.

In 1993, prior to his political baptism that included stints with former Vice President Dan Quayle and ex-Congressman J.C. Watts Jr. of Oklahoma, Mr. Josi had released an album on MasterMix music.

Now, having left the political arena, the Washingtonian is set to release his first album in a decade titled "NYC Sessions 1993-2003."

It's a compilation of Mr. Josi's unreleased studio recordings with an all-star lineup that includes musicians from the Lionel Hampton, Harry Connick Jr. and Benny Goodman orchestras, as well as musicians who've played with Mel Torme, Rosemary Clooney, Johnny Hartman and Tony Bennett.
- The Washington Times

"Review, "I Walks With My Feet Off The Ground""

by David Badham

A male vocalist - no, a real singer - who deserves to be ranked only with the very best, I can hardly believe it!

Coming from a reviewer who normally avoids covering singers, you can take it that this is praise indeed. And he is here backed by Harry Allen on tenor, his usual accompanist and arranger Tony Monte, and the ever-reliable backing of Dave Green and Trevor Tomkins to make a memorable issue.

The tunes selected are also right, with swingers contrasted with ballads and lesser-known ones such as A Sleepin' Bee, and Azure Te with standards like Just in Time which the five of them combine to make almost a new composition. I would say his style is an amalgam of Mel Torme (whom he acknowledges as an influence) and early Frankie of his days with TD, which can't be bad.

His superiority over others who attempt this style comes from good expression, superb enunciation and accurate pitching. v On the more spirited numbers such as Just in Time, When I Take My Sugar To Tea, and Gotta Be This Or That, he lets himself go and to excellent effect. If I have one small criticism it is that he could do with a touch more breath control on the high notes of ballads - but then he would be in a class with Frankie at his best and you wouldn't need this reviewer to point you in his direction!

I believe it will come, and meanwhile this is still a delight of its kind. Harry Allen has that happy (and, these days, rare) knack of putting exactly the right phrase into short solos which lead naturally into the vocal reprise rather than break the track into two. The best of many good examples of this are I Concentrate on You, The Girl of my Dreams, Just In Time, and a superb version of A Nightingale Sang In Berkeley Square on which everyone shines.

Pianist Tony Monte prompts well in the background throughout but is particularly effective on Gotta Be This or That and Birth of the Blues, and his best solo is on Let's Get Lost. But it is all good wherever you put the needle/laser down and I welcome a singing star of the future. Do try it if you like singing rather than mere crooning.

- Jazz Journal International

"The Arrival Of Old Brown Eyes?"

by Keith Howell

You don't have to be around the entertainment business very long before you begin to view the extravagant claims of PR's, managers and agents with the degree of suspicion which they richly deserve. I'd forgotten how many times I have been promised that such and such a group are going to be the 'new Beatles', or that this or that male vocalist is worthy of being acclaimed as 'another Frank Sinatra'.

So several decades-worth of justified cynicism clicked into place when I was sent a demo tape of a new American singer who allegedly sounded "remarkably like a young Frank Sinatra". What I hadn't bargained for was that this time the usual hyperbole was absent. Christian Josi's vocal talent does bear a striking resemblance to the Sinatra who recorded with the bands of Harry James and Tommy Dorsey in the early forties.

Although more physically robust than the gaunt youngster who had the bobby-soxers in hysterics at New York's Paramount Theatre, and with brown eyes, rather than the famous blue ones, twenty-three year old Christian clearly shares the painstaking approach of Sinatra to his work, as he demonstrated when he recorded his debut album in London earlier this year.

"I first heard that kind of music when I was a child growing up in California. My mother played it around the house a lot. But when I was a teenager I kind of rebelled and and played drums in a heavy metal band. Then, at seventeen, I went and saw Frank Sinatra in concert and that brought it all back and re-sparked my interest. I got more exposed to it when I was in college and got cast in a singing role in a couple of Cole Porter musicals. And its kind of evolved out of all that.

"Among my vocal influences have been not only Frank Sinatra but also Bing Crosby, Tony Bennett, Mel Torme, Billy Eckstine, Herb Jeffries (who is now a good friend of mine and has been a big help), and really the list is endless."

After graduating from California State University, Christian's embryonic career also benefitted from a two-year stint with the Chris Davis Big Band. "For someone who wants to do this kind of music, you can't do it right unless you've been in front of a big band. You have the regimen there; you have a group of musicians there from whom you can learn as a singer. I learned so much from being up there on the stand. So I love singing with big bands, it's my thing. Recently, I sang with Lionel Hampton's big band in New York at the Mayor's inauguration. And that was a dream come true!"

The move from west to east coast came after Christian went to a Mel Torme concert in Palm Springs. "I snuck backstage and gave him a demo tape, not thinking he'd ever listen to it. But the next day his piano player, John Colianni, called me and said, "Mel liked it, he's handed it to me." John was about to start a big band in New York, and he asked me to come out and be the singer. So I did. I'd never been to New York before, and here I was in the middle of this crazy city. And it turned out to be a kind of charmed thing, because even though the band idea didn't come off - there were problems - I got lots of gigs straight away, and it all began to take off. I moved into an apartment building, and met the woman who's become my wife, so the whole New York thing has been very, very wonderful. I've been very fortunate, and I hope it stays that way."

"I think the essence of the music's appeal to the young is that its finally being presented to them by people they can consider their peers. If you're a sixteen year old kid and you hear Frank Sinatra, the old albums are great and you like them, but the man is in his seventies so a kid is not really going to get into that. But if you see somebody young who looks kinda hip, they're more likely to be open to it. And I think what that leads to is people hear the young guys like me doing it, and then they go out and start buying the old Sinatra and Tony Bennett records, and listen to THE TRUTH."

Christian is clearly enjoying his success, but views the often-made comparison with Sinatra realistically. "Seriously, there will never be another Frank Sinatra. And I just hope to do the music well, do it justice, and hope people will like to listen to me. Of course, he's influenced me; he taught everybody to sing. I've got a long way to go and I'm sure my sound will evolve over the years. I probably won't sound my best until I am in my thirties or even later."

In the meantime, and with the release of his first album, I Walks With My Feet Off The Ground, on which he's backed by the sensitive quartet of pianist Tony Monte, saxophonist Harry Allen, bassist Dave Green and drummer Trevor Tomkins, you've got a chance to make your own assessment of the Josi voice. It is certainly a recorded debut which fully deserves the accolade bestowed on it by another veteran vocalist of the big band era, Herb Jeffries: "A marvelous young talent with a gift from God."
- Jazz Magazine


"Alive & Swingin" (LP)
Released November, 2003
Large Armadillo Music, Inc.

"I Walks With My Feet Off The Ground" (LP)
Released March, 1994
MasterMix Music, Ltd. (UK)


Feeling a bit camera shy


Age: 32
Hometown: Washington, DC
Years performing: 15

By Delfeayo Marsalis:

Christian Josi has arrived at a very important time in musical history. With the resurgence of jazz music over the past decade, many enthusiasts have enjoyed quality achievements in virtually every category, on virtually every instrument. One area that has been quite limited in terms of development, has been the vocal performance. Given the maturity of Josi's voice on this recording, he may well grow into one of the most endearing personalities of this generation.

He is quick to point out, "I like to sing songs that tell a story and have a really strong melody. That makes it a challenge-to be passionate, accurate and musical all at the same time." Josi more than lives up to the task at hand, his interpretations of the selected material breathes new life into the standard repertoire. It is clear that he not only understands the function of the voice in jazz, but also that of the accompanying ensemble. As a result, Josi produces very personal, animated versions of choice material.

He states, "Many times the lyrics have a double meaning, sort of a two-fold concept. Realizing this helps me translate the words using a certain inflection or implication. Especially love songsā€¦the most effective lyrics imply much more than they actually say." But Josi's voice is very clear and to the point. What makes him unique is the degree to which he is able to express the material as though it were a representation of his own experiences. He can appreciate Nat King Cole, Frank Sinatra, Mel Torme, or Ella Fitzgerald without confusing what makes each one special.

Art has always required that individuals express their personal opinions with wisdom and authority. Josi introduces a vocal sound that boasts the knowledge of geniuses past, and the courage of heroes present. He adds, "I have to feel a song. It has to say something to me and about me at the same time." Providing a new outlook on the future of vocal jazz in America, Christian Josi has something to say and we'll be wise to listen.