N.Y.C. TV personality Roberto Tirado teams up with Ben Grisafi's big band for a program of romantic ballads sung in English and Spanish with a powerful voice that recalls Mario Lanza. Like Lanza, Tirado has a muscular baritone voice with excellent diction and great range, but leans less toward opera and operetta and more to the romantic ballad. Tirado also balances his program with up-tempo material. Backed by one of the top swing bands in the New York area, there's no way that Tirado can avoid having some fun with popular standards. He opens "When You're Smiling" with a nod to Jimmy Durante, and later on to Al Jolson as he rocks on this classic standard with the band. There is a bevy of tunes that are generally associated with those pop singers with big, powerful voices, including "I Apologize"(Billy Eckstine) and "That's My Desire" (Frankie Laine) and one of the most under-recorded great songs of all times, "This Is all I Ask," a tune that belongs to Tony Bennett. Tirado can also get downright sentimental, getting close to maudlin with a tune like "Body and Soul." Irrespective of the tune he's performing and the singing style he uses to present it, Tirado's sincerity and empathy for the lyrics come through strong and clear. He likes what he's doing. His vocal prowess is also enhanced by the insertion of timely and meaningful solos by such excellent instrumentalists as Frank Guerrero, Ben Grisafi, and Bil Doar. This album should be grabbed up by those who get their vocal thrills by big-voiced baritones. Recommended.
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