In another time and place, Jerry Costanzo wouldnt be interpreting the Great American Songbook. Its likely hed 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, Costanzos 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 Yorks Herbert Berghof Studio. A stint as personal aid and chauffeur for Al Pacino further apprised Costanzo to the arts, before he joined his father Josephs big band, The Memories Of Swing, first on sax and then as the outfits lead vocalist. While well into his 30s before the New Yorker recognized his calling cardbringing his musical idols back to lifeCostanzo is making up for lost time. Today, the man behind the mic is a full-time troubadour and bandleader, surrounded by a Whos 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 Yorks Metropolitan Room, Feinsteins at The Loews Regency and Waldorf Astoria, the Long Island, N.Y., Tilles Center for the Performing Arts, Hofstra Universitys Artie Shaw Centennial Concert and dozens of concert series, festivals and private posh gigs up and down the East Coast. Costanzos follow-up disc, Cant We Be Friendsreleased on Daywood Drive Records and executive/co-produced by Costanzo with acclaimed vocalist and composer Kevin Fitzgerald Burkeraises 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, Theyre all dead. I wish Id 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 Americas songbook.
Chuck Taylor served as a writer and senior editor at Billboard magazine for 14 years. He has appeared on CNN, ABCs 20/20, VH1s Behind the Music, A&Es Biography, and been quoted in the New York Times, USA Today and numerous publications about music.