By Myra Chanin
Jason Danieley is a bold, audacious, fun-loving, inventive, trim, unpretentious very, very talented charmer with a great haircut – a swashbuckling singing Errol Flynn minus the sword but including the 1940’s Hollywood leading man mustache which Downton Abbey’s Lord Grantham would find acceptable on any suitor courting his widowed daughter, Lady Mary. The stranger sitting beside me was as intrigued as I was by Danieley’s sleek fifty shades of grey ensemble, particularly the charcoal grey suit which looked like it had been made out of either the priciest Italian leather or an equally costly non-Mafioso sharkskin. By the end of the performance we concluded it was cut from some created-for-outer-space- astronaut applications. Space-shmace, fabric-shmabric, whatever it was, it looked spectacular on him. Actually anything would have looked spectacular on him. Jason Danieley is a sight for any eyes and ears, either sore or thriving.
Jason Danieley is also a really fine tenor, hitting whatever notes he wants to hit whenever he wants to hit them and keeping them hanging around for as long as he wants them to stay. He’s also a great entertainer – intimate, warm and honest who is very clear about what he thinks and is feeling. It’s a joy to watch him dancing around on stage, shaking his torso and hips like a Rock ‘n Roller while his incredible jazz trio, led by Musical Director/Pianist Tedd Firth along with bassist Pete Donovan (who wrote a few of the arrangements) and smiling drummer Clin DeGanon, bounces and grins right along with him.
Danieley is an Irish romantic, haunted by Romantic Notions which also happens to be the title and theme of his current Feinstein’s/54Below appearance. Like all Irish romantics, throughout his teen years he pined and worried if and when he would ever meet the love of his life. “I was sixteen already and I hadn’t met her!” When it finally happened, her was Marin Mazzie and it was a case of mutual love at first sight. They were both struck by the thunderbolt of love when they worked together in Trojan Women: A Love Story and have been married for 18 years. Danieley feels that romance is a big part of life and looking for and finding that special someone makes him want to sing.
His musical program is hardly run of the mill. Only two numbers are derived from the classic American songbook: the Rodgers and Hart lushly romantic ballad, “With a Song in My Heart,” and the Sammy Cahn/Jule Styne – Frank Sinatra favorite, “Time After Time.” Even the show tunes Danieley selected were somewhat off the Styne-Sondheim-Strouse beaten track: “I Wish it So,” from Marc Blitzstein’s Juno, “Nobody Knows Me” from Next to Normal, “And this is My Beloved,” from Kismet and “You, You, You,” from The Visit.
He opened with a plaintive, clear and crisp “Nature Boy,” a surprise 1947 Nat King Cole hit which contains this simple but totally romantic notion that “the greatest thing you’ll ever learn is just to love and be loved in return,” which segued into a dallying-with-discord, strong bass and drumbeat heavy treatment of “With a Song in My Heart,” that was curiously extraordinary. Other pop/rock numbers like The Beatles “Something,” and Boston’s “To Be A Man,” were followed by “Believe It Or Not,” the theme song of the TV show, The Great American Hero, one of Danieley’s favorite shows. He certainly has eclectic tastes. My own personal Stevie Wonder perpetual melodic miracle, “For Once in My Life,” had me dancing under the table until the audience demanded an encore and was given Dion Celine’s “The Power of Love.”
Don’t let fear of Hurricane Joaquin keep you away from Feinstein’s/54Below where Danieley will be once again sharing his Romantic Notions from Saturday to Monday nights October 3-5 inclusive at 7 pm. The interior warmth, glitz, the new Fall cocktails and Danieley’s singing offer a grand alternative to the wet and windy weather outside.
TICKETS & INFORMATION: (646) 476-3551
254 W 54TH ST, CELLAR, NEW YORK, NY 10019