PrimaVera!
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PrimaVera!

Boston, Massachusetts, United States

Boston, Massachusetts, United States
Band Americana Jazz

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Music

The best kept secret in music

Press


"It was difficult to keep from 'singing along' with such old-time
favorites as 'Night and Day,' 'Oh! Marie,' 'That Old Black Magic,' 'Bei Mir Bist Du Schon' and many, many more - all done to perfection. Without trying to 'impersonate,' the show totally captured the spirit of that famous duo of yore, including some of the madcap antics of Prima and the poker-faced style of Smith. Delightful fun..."
Stu Hamstra
Cabaret Hotline, NYC, NY - CabaretHotline


"PrimaVera!.....a collision of a classically trained cabaret singer, Ida Zecco, and her husband, Jim Porcella, a very hip jazz singer. The result, a recreation of the exciting performances of Louis Prima and Keely Smith for an evening of rollicking swinging music that you wish would never end. They do wonders with Sam Butera's great arrangements....perfect timing and electrifying snap and precision."
Malcolm Alton, Jazz Critic - Allston-Brighton Free Radio, 1670 AM, Boston, MA


December 30, 2004

The best of cabaret in Boston for 2004:

"Zecco and Porcella manage to pay high homage to the great couple of swing, Louis Prima and Keely Smith, without resorting to imitation or sappy biographical patter. Instead, they just let their own musical talent and enthusiasm for the material do the talking."

John Amodeo - Bay Windows correspondent

- Bay Windows, Boston, MA


"It was a real celebration of the Lous Prima and Keely Smith era, and a great deal of fun. You (Jim Porcella and Ida Zecco) and your group are exceptional musicians! PrimaVera! swings!

Deborah La Gorce
President, Big Arts
Board of Directors - Big Arts Board of Directos, President


Worcester Magazine
SEPT. 9 - 15, 2004 • VOLUME 29, NUMBER 51| WORCESTER COUNTY'S INDEPENDENT VOICE

Viva lost Vegas
PrimaVera plays pretty for the people

By Michael Warshaw

Man, how do you do it? How do you take an act like Louis Prima and Keely Smith, an act like no other, an act with more charisma than the Rat Pack and more style than Vogue magazine, and recreate it for us, today? How do you bring Vegas alive in Worcester, and not just the Vegas of the theme parks and CSI, but Vegas when it was really Vegas — from the ’50s, when times were flush and sin was in?

Inspiration: Keely Smith and Louis Prima.
The answer is, you don’t. The answer is, you do what Jim Rice, Jim Porcella and Ida Zecco have done with PrimaVera (or as it’s billed, PrimaVera!). You take the arrangements, you grok the vibe, you grab onto the spirit, you put together some dynamite talent, and you really swing — because otherwise, it don’t mean a thing.
Porcella has real chops; so do his guys — seven players in the backup ensemble — and especially, so does his wife, Ida Zecco. Musically, the combo of nine is rock-solid. You have to be before you can sell it as a novelty and there’s some novelty in the play between PrimaVera and the audience, as there was between Prima’s act and the hep cats of days gone by. The unit is loose with each other only in the sense of fun but when they play, they are as tight as you could want them to be.
That’s the foundation. The personality is built on the interplay between Porcella and Zecco, doing the Louis and Keely thing. They’re not slavish imitations and that’s the smart play. Prima built a persona not only on his New Orleans background and nervy, in-your-face ethnicity (he may have been the first national act to be so Italian), but on the atomic energy he brought on stage. As for Smith, her voice was world-class, a pure tone like an angel straight from heaven. Their chemistry was more like alchemy, a mysterious blend of opposites; her a young, still thing issuing forth that golden voice, he much more rough around the edges, notably older than she, bouncing all around her while she oozed exasperated tolerance.
Porcella and Zecco do it differently. Their chemistry is warmer, more inclusive, although Zecco does bring the patient wife persona to bear, showcasing Porcella’s antics by reacting with bemusement and just enough eye-rolling to bring the audience in on the joke. He cuts up and even bounces a bit like Louis, but he’s got some different style and he’s smart enough to use it. Their chemistry is more mellow in a way; they’re closer in age, for one. And they don’t imitate the voices. Porcella can sing and his wife is a star. She’s torchier than Keely, more street, more from the gut and closer in style to Porcella than Smith seemed to be to Louis.
D E T A I L S
Who: PrimaVera
Where: Union Blues
When: Thursday, Sept. 16, at 8 p.m.
Call: 508-767-2587
It’s a different act because they’re different people. It’s a tribute by virtue of the material and the experience. Louis Prima had a lot of incarnations in a long career, but the best was what PrimaVera cops from; the magic of Keely and Louis and Sam Butera, who brought his own band, The Witnesses — great name for a band — into the mix. That’s what Jim Rice, the keyboard man and music director, brings to bear when he captures Prima’s arrangements.
Then there are the numbers. They start and end with “Hey Boy! Hey Girl!” the best tune to come out of a lousy ‘50s movie, perfect for introducing the twofer talent of Porcella and Zecco; then run right through the classics: “Night and Day,” “Oh! Marie,” “Just a Gigolo” and many more. They’re smart enough to alter just enough to match the act, turning, for example, the novelty number “Banana Split for My Baby” into a duet instead of the single-o number it was with Prima doing the singing.
The powerhouse of the backup band is the sax, and Arnie Krakowsky delivers. He’s smoother than Butera, a New Orleans star in his own right; Sam was a honker and a stage presence that matched Prima himself. Krakowsky, on the other hand, is more a creature of his time. He doesn’t come up front the way Butera did, but he brings his own strength and style.
Here’s the thing: PrimaVera is an experience that captures the appeal and a lot of the mechanics of a venerable Vegas act, but is in the moment. It’s a good time for all. And it’s perfect for Union Blues, the gorgeous venue in Worcester’s most compelling setting.
Between a canny act packed with talent and the hottest spot in town, it’s the place to be, the event to see and be seen. Catch the old black magic; you’ll jump, jive and wail.

Michael Warshaw may be reached at editorial@worcestermag.com

- Worcester Magazine


Discography

"PrimaVera! Live from Fox Theater, Foxwoods Casino and Resort".

All tracks are available for streaming and radio airplay.

Photos

Feeling a bit camera shy

Bio

With adaptations of the original Sam Butera arrangements, PrimaVera! performs the music of the great Prima/Smith duo that captured the 50's and the 60's. PrimaVera! is the only performing group of its kind in the Western Hemisphere. Two hours of the most jumpin', raucous Las Vegas show you'll ever see!

Jim Porcella - Vocals, grew up in Medford, MA, and started playing drums at the age of fourteen. He attended The Berklee College of Music in Boston and studied with Alan Dawson. Jim had aspirations of becoming a studio drummer but fate intervened. After graduation, he began working with a group that included two vocalists, a la Jackie and Roy. One night they were working "a joint in Lowell, MA" and the club owner (basically a tough guy), decided that everyone in the band had to sing. Jim had two options, be replaced by a drummer who could sing or start singing. The latter began his singing career. Working six nights a week, Jim quickly developed vocal proficiency and for many years thereafter, he worked as both a drummer and a self-styled saloon singer. Since then, he has released seven critically acclaimed CDs, performed in jazz and cabaret settings in the Northeast, London, San Francisco and Vancouver. He was also the featured vocalist at Boston's Ritz-Carlton and at Boston's prestigious Bay Towers for six years. Jim is also the brain child and lead singer of the 9-piece band, Bombay Jim and The Swinging Sapphires (a name created by his wife based on his favorite concoction, a Bombay Sapphire martini). Jim, who has always had a love for swing music, loved legendary masters such as Louis Jordan, Cab Calloway and Louis Prima. He wanted to put together a band that embodied that same musical excellence. So he sought out the finest musicians and Bombay Jim and The Swinging Sapphires was born. His most recent project, A Tribute to Louis Prima and Keely Smith is Jim's first collaborative effort with his talented wife, Ida Zecco. The band for the tribute consists of a sub-set of The Swinging Sapphires. www.jimporcella.com

Ida Zecco - Vocals, a Rhode Island native, grew up in a deeply rooted musical family and entered The New England Conservatory of Music, Boston for voice and cello. She later transferred to the Mozarteum Academy of Music in Salzburg, Austria, and completed her Bachelor of Music performance degree as well as a Masters in Music Therapy from the Orff Institute, under the tutelage of Carl Orff in Theory and Composition. Ida also has a Master of Fine Arts in Directing and Acting from the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Arts (LAMDA). She was a student of Uta Hagen of the HB Studios in NYC and studied at the Actors' Studio at NYU. She has numerous stage credits in both musical and dramatic roles in major cities/venues around the world. Ida is a professional actress and a member of Actor's Equity Association (AEA). Her theatrical career includes leading roles in opera, drama, comedy and musical theater, including roles such as Aldonza in Man of La Mancha; Lucy in You're a Good Man Charlie Brown; Desiree in A Little Night Music; Mrs. Lovett in Sweeney Todd; Eliza Doolittle in My Fair Lady; Julie Jordan in Carousel; as well as leading roles in Jacque Brel Is Alive and Well and Living in Paris; Side by Side by Sondheim, Starting Hear, Starting Now-to name a few. In the Boston area, Ida is well known for her roles as Barbara DeMarco, Mrs. Shubert or as Sgt. Mikey Thomas in Shear Madness, at the Charles Playhouse. Over the years, Ida has appeared in numerous industrial and commercial videos and has produced and directed many others for which she has won several awards. Currently, she produces and performs her own one-woman, nationally, as well as sings with some of Boston's finest studio musicians. Her first CD, A Song for Christmas, is currently in its third printing and is sold internationally. Her second CD, Better To Have Loved was released to high critical acclaim in October 2002. www.idazecco.com

Jim Rice - Music Director/Arranger/Pianist), native of Worcester, MA, is an accomplished and diverse music director, arranger, and pianist. Most recently, Jim musically directed a production of Always Patsy Cline alongside creator/director Ted Swindley at The Stoneham Theatre in Massachusetts. He has also served as music director for The New England premieres of My Way and Chicago (The Worcester Foothills Theatre in MA). Abroad, Jim has been the musical conductor for the European-Broadway tour of Ken Hill's Phantom of the Opera, as well as the accompanist for the Broadway show Grease, in Zurich. He has also toured nationally with Man of La Mancha, and Camelot. Other theatres Jim has worked at include The American Stage Festival (NH), Olney (MD), North Shore Music Theatre (MA) Kansas City Starlight (MO); and the Tennessee Williams Fine Art Center (FL). Jim also had the good fortune of arranging a show-stopping, 50-piece orchestration recently performed by national act, Randy Roberts, in Florida wit