With visions of his idol Tony Bennett dancing in his head, 24-year-old singer Danny Quintero has embarked on a project to produce his first Christmas CD in time for the holidays this year. And with Bennett in town to perform at the Pantages Theatre on June 15, Quintero is even more excited to get going on making this CD, which he plans to create in the style of Bennett’s classic 1975 album he recorded with American jazz pianist Bill Evans (aptly titled “The Tony Bennett/Bill Evans Album”).
To help fund the CD, Quintero has turned to the Internet fundraising website Kickstarter (http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1870372773/the-danny-quintero-christmas-album). His goal is to raise $6,000 by June 28 to cover the base line costs of making the album. So far he has collected $1,160 and this just in the first couple of weeks. He said he welcomes donations of any and all amounts, as bit by bit the grand total will increase.
“Any denomination in terms of donations really does help,” Quintero said. “$10, $20 adds up easily.”
Once the funding is there, Quintero said he would start recording in August. “I personally hope to have CDs in my hand by October,” he said. As far as the song selection, that will come from Quintero’s own list of personal favorites. “Some of my most treasured songs that I grew up with will be carefully chosen so that they fit the dynamic I’m looking for.”
Accompanying him on the album will be his longtime music partner Randy Halberstadt, professor of jazz piano and jazz theory at Cornish College of the Arts. Quintero said Halberstadt is like his own Bill Evans. “The chemistry creates this for both of us.
“Bill Evans was literally an orchestra himself when playing. He and Tony were known to be an odd-matched pair but when their album came out, everyone’s jaw dropped. It presents what a piano and voice can do when they’re really good together.”
Known among his friends and family as Mr. Christmas, Quintero is such a Christmas fanatic that he starts putting up decorations on Halloween. “This year, because of doing a (Christmas) CD months in advance, I have a legitimate excuse to listen to and sing Christmas songs,” he said, laughing. “I live and breathe the music of Christmas and that comforting feeling of home. Now, I hope to spread the spirit of Christmas even further by creating an album that could be a family tradition and listened to year after year, like Bing Crosby or Nat King Cole. I want it to come out of the box of decorations with all the other Christmas CDs. This is my dream.”
He said he is looking forward to the two CD release parties he has planned: one on Nov. 29 at the Cypress Wine Bar inside the Bellevue Westin Inn, and another at 13 Coins during the first week of December.
Quintero has been singing professionally since he was 18. His deep, rich, tenor voice has that definite “wow factor” to induce a swoon that rivals any brought on by the Rat Pack that Quintero pays tribute to through his music. In fact, Quintero sounds so much like Frank Sinatra that it is uncanny (just listen to him sing “New York New York” with the Garfield High School Band at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mG1nGmhPKsU).
What sets Quintero apart is that he is not an impersonator crooning the works of Sinatra, Bennett, Dean Martin and others of that era and beyond. He is a gifted singer and true entertainer who puts his own charming touch in the classic songs of the American jazz masters.
“It’s like a blood I share with these men,” Quintero said.
Quintero was a nominee for the 2011 Earshot Jazz Northwest Vocalist of the Year and he has performed at Benaroya Hall with the Seattle Repertory Jazz Orchestra in “Ol’ Blue Eyes: The Music of Frank Sinatra” and with the Garfield High School Jazz Ensemble both in Seattle and on a tour of Italy. This award-winning high school ensemble’s director Clarence Acox, a Seattle jazz institution in his own right, said of Quintero: “His sense of phrasing and attention to detail and pitch are impeccable… He studies the music of the greats that have come before him and understands the lineage, beauty and importance of the Great American Songbook.”
Quintero said that meeting Bennett while he is in Tacoma would be a lifelong dream come true. And what exactly would he say were he to shake hands with the legendary 17-time Grammy Award winner?
“Of course, I’d be speechless,” Quintero said. “But most importantly out of everything I’d love to say, ‘Thank you for inspiring me.’ I don’t want to convince him to make me the next star; I just want to express my gratitude to him for opening up opportunities for people like me.”
Quintero entertains regularly at 13 Coins Restaurant in Seattle (next on June 15 at 9:30 p.m.), in addition to numerous other gigs around Western Washington. Find him on Facebook and at http://www.dannyquintero.com.