Highly-acclaimed Hollywood star and accomplished singer Robert Davi put his mighty vocals to work Thursday at Herb Albert’s Vibrato Jazz Grill, where he charmed a full house with his interpretation of Frank Sinatra’s beloved songbook.
The Bel Air, CA concert let Davi’s tough-guy persona, on display as the Colombian drug lord in License to Kill and Special Agent Johnson in Die Hard, give way to a softer side as he entertained about 200 fans between the ages of 20 and 92.
The evening benefited America’s Mighty Warriors; a foundation created by Debbie Lee, the mother of fallen American hero Marc E. Lee who was the first Navy Seal to be killed in action in Iraq while defending his country and the lives of the men in his battalion. The foundation’s mission it is to honor the sacrifices of American troops and provide support for the families of those who have lost their loved ones in battle.
Oscar-winner Jon Voight made a tearful introduction by reading the final, lovingly selfless letter Marc had sent home to his family.
“I had his letter with me. I carried it with me everywhere,” the Ray Donovan star said.
Voight then stepped aside to let Debbie Lee to share her son’s sacrifice and the importance of supporting our men in uniform.
“I’m just overwhelmed … that letter has literally impacted millions and millions of lives throughout the world,” Lee said.
Davi made his grand entrance with a swagger that warms the soul. He entered from stage right, singing the Sinatra staple I’ve Got the World on a String. Ironically, Davi’s screen debut came in a 1977 TV film starring Sinatra himself. Both Davi and Sinatra are Italian-Americans who were raised in New York.
Throughout the evening, Davi would captivate the large crowd with musical selections such as The One I Love (Belongs to Somebody Else). He turned the song on its ear with his own rare comedic and uplifting rendition of the tune. The song oft and ordinarily conveys a melancholic sentiment, which is embodied in the story of a one-sided romance.
His rendition of The House I Live In received a standing ovation as Davi sang the piece as a salute to the America he knows and loves. “But especially the people. That’s America to me,” rang out as he sang the song’s closing line. At one point in the night, he asked all the American veterans in the crowd to stand up. The audience roared with applause in salute to their service.
Ol’ Man River was sung as a tribute to poet Maya Angelou who passed away on May 28. The song encapsulates the struggles of African-Americans during the time the song came out. It was created in 1927 for the musical Show Boat. Angelou, who was born in 1928, was hailed for her work in civil rights and as a leader who fought for social justice.
As Davi made his way around the crowd with his smooth baritone voice, Davi gave each and every spectator the feeling that they were being sung to personally.
And then came his performance of Send in the Clowns, written by American composer Stephen Sondheim and made popular after Sinatra recorded it in 1973. The song’s irony is that it has nothing to do with clowns. Instead the “clown” refers to “fools,” as Sondheim conveyed in a 2008 interview that the song is a story of a love gone awry; “Aren’t we foolish?… Aren’t we fools?” Sondheim had expressed.
The heaviness had struck home with the crowd as a cloud of melancholy rose over them for a rare and captivated silence which would rarely be felt throughout the energy-filled night.
And with one phrase, “all right Randy, let’s kick it up a notch!” the entire mood was transformed as the band ushered in the tune for You’re Learnin’ the Blues. The audience swayed to the upbeat music and Davi’s soothing voice.
Davi recently headlined in Australia’s historic Palais Theater where he performed at the Melbourne International Jazz Festival. He revealed to Breitbart News that that documentary will be coming out on him and his intriguing musical journey. Movie fans also will be able to see the actor in the anticipated action sequel Expendables 3, opening Aug. 15.
The evening ended with the palpable reality of the story told in That’s Life. With gratitude and affections for all who had come to see him perform one of his other great life passions, singing, Davi charmed the audience with the memorable tune. They were left, of course, wanting more …
“That’s life (that’s life), I tell you I can’t deny it
I thought of quitting, baby, but my heart just ain’t gonna buy it
And if I didn’t think it was worth one single try
I’d jump right on a big bird and then I’d fly”