Danny Bacher has been called a lot of things – most of them good – and one of the most common, usually after someone has watched his show, is “old soul”. This gifted singer, songwriter, arranger and soprano saxophonist may come across as someone who has traveled back in time to the 1930s or 1940s.
“If I had a nickel for every time someone said that to me, I would have…lots of nickels,” Bacher laughs.
Today, indeed, it is his 44and birthday.
They call it that because Bacher effortlessly masters the genre of swing dance music that characterized the era, and he sings with the warm, airy style of Great American Songbook stylists like Sinatra or Torme.
Or, to bring us back to the present day, like Feinstein and Bublé, to which Bacher drew favorable comparisons.
A recipient of the prestigious Margaret Whiting Award, Bacher was nominated for Best Male Vocalist in the 2019 National Jazz Times Readers’ Poll, along with Harry Connick, John Pizzarelli and Tony Bennett.
The New York-area musician is on a short trip to Florida this week and will headline the Sunday afternoon jazz concert at the Palladium Theater.
He will perform with a band of some of the Bay Area’s finest musicians – pianist John O’Leary, bassist Alejandro Arenas, trumpeter James Suggs and drummer Rick Costa.
“When people ask me what I do and I tell them I’m a jazz musician, I usually have to explain more,” Bacher says. “Because people have formulated these ideas of what jazz is. I’ve heard so many people say it’s “old white people music”, which I think is a riot, or “it’s elevator music”.
“It’s very difficult to define what jazz is – there are many subgenres – but I always say that the music I make is very accessible jazz. Because it’s jazz that jazz fans can really enjoy, but people who aren’t necessarily fans, or who don’t know they’re jazz fans yet, can listen to what I do and relate to it. to put.
He considers himself an artist. “I like public participation. I really like winking and leaning on the audience. It comes from my acting background.
In the 1980s, growing up in suburban Wayne, New Jersey, Bacher never connected with the music of the day – the Madonnas, the Van Halens, the Michael Jacksons.
His family spent most weekends with his maternal grandparents. They had a pool – more importantly, for the impressionable young Danny, his grandfather had a collection of classic big band and swing albums. “I just assumed that was the music everyone was listening to,” he says.
At 10, he announced that he wanted to learn to play the drums. Or the saxophone. His parents vetoed the first (too strong) and encouraged him to try the sax.
“I’m thrilled with it,” Bacher says, “because it was a melodic instrument, and I think so melodically when I play. Even today, if I had to analyze my approach to solos and improvisation, it’s still very melodic.
“So many great composers of that time had such a melodic sense. Jazz is such a great marriage of so many things – rhythms from Africa, but also melodies from classical music. In particular, I like French impressionist music. I find it very beautiful and melodic.
When he first studied as a child, he had an agreement with his grandfather. He would borrow a few records – Basie, Ellington, Miller or Goodman – and when he came back the following weekend he would play something he had learned. All the melody lines, all the solos, all the instruments of his saxophone.
He has recorded two albums so far – the first a tribute to three of his favorite jazz players (and inspirations), Louis Armstrong, Louis Prima and Louis Jordan (he calls them The Three Louies) titled Swing that music!
His last, Always happy, brings together 12 nuggets of musical positivity — from “Get Happy” and “Shaking the Blues Away” to “Hooray for Hollywood.”
Like many who dream of introducing the old school to the new, Bacher is happy when it is suggested that he be an ambassador for the music he loves so much.
“One of the things we have to be careful about in jazz is this pedagogical approach to music,” he says. “And I think we get bogged down in that – I think that may turn some people off, instead of getting into the music.
“So I feel like doing something fun – it’s almost like ‘let’s have a party and everyone’s invited’. While I’m on stage, I’m going to get people involved as much as possible.
“Hoping that they not only become lifelong fans, but become curious and want to know more about this kind of music.”
Sunday’s show starts at 4 p.m. Tickets and information here.