The reviews are in: Robert Davi’s live rendition of Frank Sinatra’s classic tunes Aug. 30 was a smash hit.
County Executive Ed Mangano continued his legacy of bringing brilliantly inspired cultural arts to Nassau when he presented renowned actor-singer-producer and director Davi to the stage of the Harry Chapin Lakeside Theatre in Eisenhower Park late last month.
Davi–best known as one of the top five James Bond villains–wowed a crowd of more than 10,000 people with his first New York performance: a tribute to the Great American Songbook.
Davi entertained for two hours, crooning such Sinatra hits as “Day in, Day Out,” “Summerwind” and “It Was a Very Good Year.”
At one point during the show, Davi and Mangano together gave a Nassau County citation to Ervin Drake, who wrote “It Was A Very Good Year” and was in the audience for the concert. Drake, considered one of the great songwriters of all time, has a house in Great Neck.
Between songs, Davi captivated listeners with stories about his friendships with Sinatra, Marlon Brando and other stars.
“I knew it would be a great event, but Robert Davi’s performance exceeded my expectations,” said County Executive Mangano. “People were dancing, swaying, cheering and standing up to applaud him. There was no doubt that those who attended really enjoyed. I look forward to having him return to Nassau’s beautiful theatre under the stars.”
Davi likens the Great American Songbook to the music industry’s version of Shakespeare and his songs are dedicated to patriotism, anti-bigotry and family values. His song list included not only the chestnuts of the American Songbook but some songs not usually done.
His especially rousing “The House I Live In” and deep emotional rendition of “Old Man River”–in honor of Martin Luther King–brought the audience to tears. He also belted out Cole Porter’s “At Long Last Love,” the Gershwin’s “A Foggy Day,” and Johnny Burke and Arthur Johnston’s “Pennies from Heaven.”
Near the end of the performance, “That’s Life” brought the audience to their feet and Davi thrilled them with an encore of “My Way.”
His first New York concert would not have been complete, though, without the anthem to the city that never sleeps–“New York, New York.” Several local celebrities were among those who attended the free concert.
Scott Kay, the Premier Jewelry Designer of the Stars, said “Robert Davi killed it last night … I have been to every concert you can imagine. I have been to the Grammys 8 times and the American Music Awards 12 times so imagine how many people I have seen perform, Robert Davi blew me away last night and that is very hard to do.”
Long Island filmmaker Fred Carpenter said it was “the best concert (he) ever attended.”
Chazz Palminteri, a New Yorker who starred on Broadway and on screen in “A Bronx Tale,” said: “Once there was Sinatra and now there is Davi. Robert Davi sang and left the audience breathless.”
Davi released his CD, “Davi Sings Sinatra: On the Road to Romance” in Sept. 2011 and has so far performed to sold-out crowds in California and Las Vegas. On September 28, he’ll be back in Vegas performing with Don Rickles.
Composer/Producer and musician Mark Sherman said of the Aug. 30 concert: “Robert Davi’s delivery of the American Songbook is brimming with his full voice, relentless styling, bright personality and deep commitment to the art-form itself… (He has) the incredible ability to reach out and grab the audience with his commanding majestic voice. Truly, he is the closest thing to Sinatra since Sinatra. As a jazz musician, all I can say is Davi swings hard like the great legends of jazz.”
Also in the audience for Davi’s Long Island debut, was actor Steve Guttenberg, who grew up in North Massapequa and graduated from Plainedge High School.
“Robert Davi not only thrilled ten thousand people with the power and charisma reserved for the Chairman of the Board, but generously gave us a tremendously appreciated education of The Great American Songbook,” Guttenberg said. “I am a fan of the craft of his acting, and now a devotee of his formidable musical talent. Run to see him play, he will delight you.”
Davi calls the Great American Songbook–the Shakespeare of America.
Music Promoter Len Triola, who put together the 15-piece orchestra that accompanied Davi at Friday’s performance, said of Davi: “The actor that sang is now the singer that acts. An incredible night … Davi’s voice was loud, swinging and booming, this was Davi’s main event and he performed like the heavy weight champion of the world.”
The concert had the feel of a real “Sinatra” event with celebrities and thousands of people in attendance, and electricity in the air that was off the charts.”
“Get on the Davi express now while you can get a seat,” Triola added. “Sell-Out City here we come.”
Davi’s 100 screen roles include Special Agent Johnson in “Die Hard,” the villainous Jake Fratelli in “The Goonies”; Al Torres in “Showgirls”; lead villain and drug lord Franz Sanchez in the James Bond film “License to Kill”; FBI Special Agent Baily Malone in the NBC television series “Profiler”; Crime Family boss Leonard Marks in “The Iceman” and soon to be co-star in “Expendables 3.”
His lifelong passion, he says, is singing. Next week, he’ll be at Capitol Records recording a new single: “New York City Christmas”–a tribute to Swing, arranged by Chris Walden.
Davi, like Mangano, attended Hofstra University and has never forgotten his Long Island roots. About half-way through the concert, Davi asked the crowd to donate to those still struggling to recover from Hurricane’s Sandy’s devastation.