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the otto files

where the classics never go out of style

Today marks the 90th birthday of the quintessential lounge singer Armando “Buddy” Greco.

Greco is one of those guys who I knew very little about when I began my radio show 16 years ago. Originally, my show was “a celebration of the Italian American influence on the Great American Songbook.” Which basically means I was desperate to find Italian American singers and musicians whose music I could play. The husband of one of my mom’s friends asked me early in the run why I didn’t play more Buddy Greco. I had bought a CD of Greco’s music which was terrible. I mean it was the worst of the 1970s. I was to learn that it was the proverbial “bad apple” that I allowed to ruin “the barrel” of my opinion. It was a misguided ’70s experiment. The bulk of Greco’s output genuinely swings.

I gave it another try and bought a CD compilation of some of Greco’s music from the late 1950s and early 1960s and enjoyed it very much. It did have a lounge lizard feel to it but there was little doubt that the guy had something. The “something” he had was real musical ability. After I’d played some of his vocals on the air someone asked me if I had any of his piano music and yet another layer was peeled away. Who knew he was such a fine jazz piano player too?

I was watching some of Greco’s videos on YouTube the other day and my son said, “It sounds like he’s ripping off Bobby Darin.” I told him that his assessment was understandable as their styles were/are quite similar. However, the truth is that Buddy Greco was on the scene at least ten years before Bobby Darin.

In the end, music is totally objective. I love some quirky musical talents that many people do not like and there are many, many popular musical acts that I have just never appreciated. Say what you will about Buddy Greco but he knows how to swing!

Happy 90th Buddy. May you enjoy many, many more!

I’d like to point out just one thing before you watch this next clip – Greco is 82 years old as he tickles the ivories on this Harnick/Bock classic, “She Loves Me.”

I am thrilled to find these clips from 1966. Not only do they feature Buddy and Andy Williams but also one of my dad’s favorite performers – Trini Lopez! Andy and Buddy are clearly out of their element in the Ray Charles’ “What’d I Say?” number but it hardly matters. This is just wonderful stuff!!

If you want to hear more from Buddy, tune into The Sunday Music Festa this afternoon, Sunday, August 14, 2016 at 12:00 noon until 2:00 p.m. on Jazz 90.1 FM in Rochester, New York. Not in Rochester, you say? No big deal, you can pick up our live webstream HERE. Come join the fun!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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