Philly jazz musician Bruce Klauber brings authentic Sinatra sounds to the stage

Bruce Klauber has been the drummer of the All-Star Jazz Trio since 1972.
Charley Braun

Anyone who knows Philadelphia’s Bruce Klauber knows that he’s all about the drums.

Whether acting as the drummer with the All-Star Jazz Trio since 1972, as well as sessions with jazz greats Charlie Ventura and Milt Buckner, writing books—along with being a biographer of swing drummer Gene Krupa, he penned ‘Reminiscing in Tempo: Farewells and Recollections of Showbiz’, Jazz and Drums’—and producing video packages on musical technique and Warner Brothers’ ‘Jazz Legends’ DVD series, Klauber is a man who walks and talks in rhythm.

For all the snares, toms and hi-hats in his life, there is another side to Klauber – the swinging, singing side. Along with hosting evenings of vocal song dedicated to the late, great Louis Prima (“Just a Gigolo”), the Philadelphia bon vivant has spent the last several seasons refining his crooning craft with the end result being a testimony to a New Jersey legend greater than that of Springsteen or the Sopranos combined—Frank Sinatra.

Before the Chairman of the Board and Rat Pack leader’s Dec. 12 birthday celebration, the drummer-singer and his friends will stop by Sansom Street’s Chris Jazz Café on Nov. 24 for two shows of Bruce Klauber Swings Frank Sinatra.

Sinatra doesn’t need a mega anniversary in which to celebrate his legendary music; no over-scaled box sets or over-sized coffee table books. Along with this year’s 60th birthday of his Reprise Records label and the release of ‘Frank Sinatra: Reprise Rarities Volume 3’ launched by Frank Sinatra Enterprises and UMe, the Sinatra and Dean Martin family Christmas celebration—not seen in its entirety since its original airing on Dec. 21, 1967—just started airing on PBS stations such as WHYY, Channel 12 in Philadelphia this autumn.

Along with currently collaborating on a book about the life and music of Frank Sinatra, Jr. with Andrea Kauffman (Frank’s personal manager for 31 years), Klauber is obsessed by all things Sinatra – in particular, the art of Francis Albert’s musical manner of speech, the cadenced eloquence of his diction, and the elegance inherent in each Tin Pan Alley/Great American Songbook classic and the manner in which the Chairman caressed each phrase.

“In the beginning of this Sinatra singing thing, I had nothing specific in mind except to sing and swing and have a ball,” says Klauber on a break from his Frank Jr. book writing duties. “As time went on, several astute listeners commented that I brought a jazz musician’s sensibility to Sinatra’s music—a natural given my work as a jazz drummer—while capturing the overall spirit of the man’s singing.”

To be certain, his “Bruce Klauber Swings Frank Sinatra” concert is not some hammy, show-busy imitation of the Chairman, not a cheap, caricature-driven charade of “shoo-bee-doo-be-doos” and “ring-a-ding-dings” to mock Old Blue Eyes.

“I don’t wear a slouched hat and a raincoat,” Klauber says seriously. “I don’t do “My Way,” and I don’t corn it up. I use the best jazz musicians around, all who blow as long, and as free as they want to. And the end, that’s what gives you “Bruce Klauber Swings Frank Sinatra.” I’ll do songs from the Basie/Sinatra book like “Pennies from Heaven,” “Fly Me to the Moon,” “The Best is Yet to Come” and numbers like that, because they swing, and because I swing and because these songs all speak to me as a jazz musician.

“The man was good to me.  I owe it to him to carry on his musical spirit.”

Sansom Street’s Chris Jazz Café will host two performances of Bruce Klauber Swings Frank Sinatra on Wednesday, Nov. 24 at 7:30 and 9:30 p.m. For information, visit chrisjazzcafe.com

More from our Sister Sites