For a large portion of Generation X and Y video game devotees, after a long day of working in the concrete jungle, the ultimate way to unwind is via a rousing game of Guitar Hero or Rock Band -- wailing along with their favorite artists. And for others who are mostly female — as a natural progression from the innocence of singing into one’s hairbrush-- some still find themselves belting out pop songs at stoplights with their windows rolled all the way up while imagining that for five minutes they’ve become Madonna or Gwen Stefani. Yet for a certain type of music lover — usually those who revere the classics — there is no greater fantasy than daydreaming that you’re under the hot spotlight of a darkened club crooning standards, cabaret tunes and/or torch songs with enough lung power to rival Dino, Old Blue Eyes, Billie, or Judy Garland amidst the sounds of ice cubes clinking in a glass. Often filled with melancholic lyrics of love gone wrong or pleas for one’s current love to last, these are the type of songs of which even a passionate fan of diverse genres of the medium, such as this reviewer, can’t get enough. Sure, I still mostly listen to alternative and independent rock and always rush out to buy the latest disc from Radiohead or Wilco.
But whether it’s in the shower, in the car, or in my head, often the first songs that pop into my mind are the ones of the past that told a story — adult contemporary jazz standards — of emotion and heart. And for a moment, just listening to the various arrangements by artists such as Louis Prima, Bobby Darin or Carmen Miranda makes one mentally travel back in time fifty plus years to an era of classic standards as Danny Aiello told J&R interviewers where they were “sung the way [we]… like to hear them (understanding every word).” Therefore it’s no wonder that Aiello titled his 2004 debut album, I Just Wanted to Hear the Words, and although, unfortunately there seems to be little call for these ballads in an increasingly modern MP3 based market of iPods and electronic redubbing, in Aiello’s follow-up album Live From Atlantic City, he again loses listeners in a dreamy reverie of musical storytelling with enough drama to rival the great Russian authors, yet with a beat you can dance to and with the brevity of a poet and the wit of a comedian. Offering listeners a performance from February 18, 2006 just two years before Atlantic City’s legendary Sands Hotel and Casino was demolished, Aiello’s concert was initially recorded just for the sake of Aiello and his band (called Joe Geary & The Guys). However, given the hotel’s destruction and the success of Aiello’s first album, which reached #4 on the Billboard Charts alongside Harry Connick Jr., Winton Marsalis, and Diana Krall for about “five minutes,” as Aiello jokes on the CD, suddenly the idea of a recording to preserve history for one’s private use seemed like a limited goal as it is now a historical document in its own right. Additionally it's highly significant to Aiello on a personal level as the album was recorded in the very Copa Room wherein he met Old Blue Eyes (Mr. Frank Sinatra himself) ten years earlier at his final American public concert at the Sands.