LEGENDARY LATIN/JAZZ PERCUSSIONIST JACK “MR. BONGO” COSTANZO RETURNS FOR FIRST NEW YORK CITY PERFORMANCE IN OVER 50 YEARS - GUEST STARS WITH TERESE GENECCO & HER LITTLE BIG BAND in The 100th Birthday Celebration of The Fabulous Frances Faye! Also to Feature NYC Cabaret Legend Ricky Ritzel on SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 4, 2012 AT 1 PM @ 54 BELOW
(September 12, 2012) Little did he know that when legendary Latin/jazz percussionist Jack Costanzo performed at Carnegie Hall with The Stan Kenton Orchestra on February 14, 1948, it would be more than a decade before his return to New York City in 1961 to play the famed Basin Street East with nightclub entertainer, Frances Faye. For more than a half a Century after, Costanzo played everywhere else except New York City. He makes his triumphant return on Sunday, November 4th, 2012 at 1PM at New York’s finest new nightclub establishment, 54 Below, appearing with “the longest-running nightclub act on Broadway,” Terese Genecco & Her Little Big Band. 30-year NYC cabaret veteran, Ricky Ritzel, will also be tagging along for the ride, celebrating the inimitable Faye in high, swinging style.
Jack Costanzo is a composer, conductor and drummer best known as a Latin/jazz percussionist. He was nicknamed “Mr. Bongo” by the late music critic and journalist Leonard Feather. After World War II, Costanzo was discharged from the Navy and set up shop at The Beverly Hills Hotel as a dance instructor where Latin band leader Bobby Ramos listened to Costanzo playing bongos in a jam session and offered him a job. Throughout the 40s, he worked with several Latin bands including Desi Arnaz and Rene Touzet. Costanzo toured with The Stan Kenton Orchestra from 1947-48 and occasionally in the 1950s, and played around the world with Nat “King” Cole from 1949 to 1953. In addition to playing on Frances Faye’s live recording of her “Caught In The Act” LP from The Crescendo Nightclub in Hollywood in 1958, he has also worked with many of the biggest names in the music business from Peggy Lee and Judy Garland to Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis, Jr., and Martin & Lewis. Costanzo formed his own band in Hollywood in the 50s where many Hollywood stars studied bongos with him including Marlon Brando, Rita Moreno, Tony Curtis, Gary Cooper, and Vic Damone. He appeared in over 20 television shows and films including The Ed Sullivan Show, The Dinah Shore Chevy Show, and the film “Harum Scarum” starring Elvis Presley. “Mr. Bongo” was in retirement until 1998 and made his comeback with a 2001 CD release, “Back From Havana” on Ubiquity Records followed by three more recordings. Costanzo appeared for the first time with Terese Genecco & Her Little Big Band at The Plush Room in San Francisco during a two week run in April of 2007 and again for two separate engagements at The M Bar in Hollywood in 2007 and 2008.
Frances Faye was born on November 4, 1912 in Brooklyn and became a critically acclaimed nightclub performer with a career that spanned more than six decades and rivaled the attendance records of Peggy Lee. She appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show, The Steve Allen Show, Playboy’s Penthouse With Hugh Hefner, 20-20 with Hugh Downs, and several TV shows in Australia. She was in the 1938 Bing Crosby film “Double Or Nothing” (singing and dancing with Crosby and Martha Raye) and then later in the 1977 Louis Malle film, “Pretty Baby.” She was also a subject of interest in Bruce Weber’s film “Chop Suey.” Faye recorded more than a dozen albums and over a hundred singles for Capital, Imperial and Bethlehem record labels. She passed away on November 8, 1991 at the age of 79 after complications from a series of strokes.
Terese Genecco has been appearing at The Iridium in New York City in “the longest-running nightclub act on Broadway,” now in it’s fourth year of monthly performances featuring her stellar 8-piece “little big band.” She first rose to prominence with her critically acclaimed cabaret show, “Drunk With Love: A Tribute To Frances Faye!” which had its world premiere in San Francisco with a five-week run at The New Conservatory Theatre Center in the summer of 2005. The show made its New York City debut in October of 2005 with a week of performances at The Encore Showroom and continued to return every few months to The Metropolitan Room where it garnered a Bistro and two MAC awards and made the Top Ten list in Time Out New York Magazine two years in a row. Genecco has performed in major jazz and concert venues around the world including The Basement Jazz Club in Sydney, Australia, The Raye Freedman Centre for the Performing Arts in Auckland, and The Turner Centre in Kerikeri, New Zealand, The Canyon Club in Los Angeles (with James Torme,) The Rrazz Room in San Francisco, Yoshi’s Jazz Club in Oakland, The Bergen Performing Arts Center in New Jersey (as the opening act for Steve Tyrell) and in the Mabel Mercer Foundation’s Annual Cabaret Convention held in the Frederick P. Rose Hall at Jazz @ Lincoln Center in New York. She has graced the stages of every New York City cabaret club in solo, group and benefit shows since relocating from San Francisco in 2009 after a year-long run of late-night Saturday performances at The Rrazz Room in The Hotel Nikko. She is the recipient of 2 MAC Awards in 2012 for “Show Of The Year” and “Major Artist Female/Duo” and was recently named one of the Top 50 Most Influential People in New York City Cabaret. Genecco is a BFA graduate from the Musical Theater/Drama Department at Syracuse University.
Ricky Ritzel has been a fixture on the nightclub and cabaret scene in New York City for 30 years and has received most cabaret awards including 13 MAC Awards in 8 different categories. He was recently named one of the Top 50 Most Influential People in New York City Cabaret. He has performed all over the United States as well as London and Paris. An accomplished solo performer, Ricky has also accompanied such great artists as Vivian Blaine, Julie Wilson, and Ruth Warrick. He was the featured musician/sidekick on Sandra Bernhard’s Radio Show on SIRIUS XM satellite radio and was musical director for the Sally Rand Tribute at Town Hall featuring Bebe Neuwirth, Donna McKechnie, Marge Champion, Karen Mason and directed by Tony Stevens. In his biggest tour de force performance, Ricky was seen in Las Vegas as Jimmy Durante in “Stop The Music” at The Cashman Theatre with Sharon McNight as Sophie Tucker. He continues to perform his solo shows in New York City cabaret clubs to critical acclaim and standing ovations and has just recently launched his new web talk show, “Ricky Ritzel…Talking With” for www.NiteLifeExchange.com.
EVENT: TERESE GENECCO & HER LITTLE BIG BAND in “Drunk With Love: A 100th Birthday Celebration of the Fabulous Frances Faye!” featuring guest stars Jack “Mr. Bongo” Costanzo and Ricky Ritzel
DATE: Sunday, November 4, 2012 at 1 PM (Faye’s actual 100th birthday)
LOCATION: 54 Below, 254 West 54th Street, New York, NY 10019
TICKETS: Main Dining Room $35 + $25 food/bev minimum; Bar Seating (limited) $25 + $25 food/bev minimum
Order online at www.54Below.com or at Ticketweb (link below)
TO SCHEDULE AN INTERVIEW WITH JACK COSTANZO, TERESE GENECCO, or RICKY RITZEL, contact Tamara Hayes at (917) 652-0823 or email firstname.lastname@example.org