Sergio Franchi

Live at the Cocoanut Grove

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Sergio Franchi wasn't a rangy singer by any means, but as illustrated bu his show at the world-famous Cocoanut Grove inside Los Angeles' Ambassador Hotel (heard on this 1965 LP), he possessed an admirable dexterity capable of delivering anything club audiences of the time expected: epic vocals from a premiere talent, a few nods to current fads, and plenty of humor to keep smiles on faces -- and drinks on tables. Franchi spends most of the record in continental territory, with "Summertime in Venice," "Just Say I Love Her (Dicitencello Vuie)," "Thy Gypsies," the French "I Wish You Love" (made famous by Charles Trenet), an aria from Tosca, and a nice set-closer, "Core 'Ngrato." There's a pair of easy-listening pleasantries ("A Woman in Love," "Quando - Quando - Quando") and a quick run-through of "The Sound of Music." Franchi also coaxes a few laughs with his announcement, "it's hootenanny time" (prefacing the American folk song "Shenandoah"), and swings through a pair of novelties, Italian translations of "Chicago" and "I Left My Heart in San Francisco." Quite the crowd-pleaser, he even informs the audience that Los Angeles reminds him of Rome (!). The date functions best, if at all, as a supper-club curio, though fans of Franchi will find it a solid performance.