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Sex, Swagger & Swing Preview - The Mercury News - October 31, 2018


Broadway World - San Francisco


Following two previous sold-out engagements,Jonathan Poretz returns to Feinstein's at the Nikko with his newest show, Sinatra, Dino, Darin & Davis - When Vegas Was VEGAS! for two performances only - Thursday, November 3 (8 p.m.) and Friday, November 4 (8 p.m.) Backed by the six-piece Fil Lorenz Orchestra, Poretz will recreate the heyday of a young Las Vegas, bringing a 60s vibe to the Feinstein's at the Nikko stage.

His authentic, big band arrangements of everyone's favorite songs from the vast catalogs ofFrank SinatraDean MartinBobby Darin and Sammy Davis, Jr, includes such celebrated songs as "I've Got You Under My Skin," "I've Got the World On a String," "Ain't That A Kick In The Head," "Everybody Loves Somebody,""Beyond The Sea," "Mack The Knife," "Mr. Bojangles," "Candy Man," "My Way," New York, New York," and many more. This show is a swingin' big band tribute to the icons of a generation and the men who transformed a desert's heat into an oasis of cool.

Tickets for Jonathan Poretz range in price from $35-$55 and are available now by calling 866.663.1063 or visiting

Blending the swinging vocal stylings of Sinatra, Torme, Bennett and Darin, New York nativeJonathan Poretz is equally comfortable performing his brand of great American jazz standards to audiences large and small.

He recently returned from a 52-city tour of Germany as Frank Sinatra in Happy Birthday Frank Sinatra - The Original Las Vegas Tribute Show. He also toured American cities as Ol' Blue Eyes in The Rat Pack in Back, and has headlined several of the Bay Area's top nightclubs, including Yoshi's Oakland and San Francisco.

Most recently, Poretz has been starring in his own highly acclaimed show, Sex, Swagger & Swing: Sinatra and Darin in the Concert That Never Was, which is touring performing arts centers throughout the Bay Area.

Poretz is also a regular vocalist with the Harold Jones Boss Men big band, led by legendary drummer Harold Jones, the beat behind Count Basie in the '70s and Sarah Vaughan in the '80s, and currently on tour with Tony Bennett.

Located within Hotel Nikko (222 Mason Street, San Francisco), Feinstein's at the Nikko presents a wide range of entertainers from stage and screen all within an intimate 140-seat cabaret setting. There is a $20 food and beverage minimum per person inside the showroom which guests can use towards cocktails as well as a variety of small plates crafted exclusively for Feinstein's at the Nikko, through Restaurant Anzu. Cheese and dessert platters will also be available in the showroom.

Guests of Feinstein's at the Nikko can enjoy a variety of food and beverage options before performances. Kanpai Lounge, located in Hotel Nikko's lobby, offers light cuisine, a full bar and specialty cocktails. Restaurant Anzu, Hotel Nikko's intimate restaurant located on the second floor, serves sustainable California cuisine enhanced with Asian flavors. Restaurant Anzu will also offer Feinstein's at the Nikko guests a special three-course prix-fixe dinner ($45 per person) prior to all performances. Reservations can be made by calling (415) 394-1100

For additional information on Jonathan Poretz, visit For additional information on Feinstein's at the Nikko, go to

Profile by Joe Montague for

Poretz Sings Straight From The Heart A Modern Day Crooner With An Old Fashioned Flair Some artists might consider a musical theater role portraying a legend like Frank Sinatra to be A potential career killer because of the comparisons to Ol’ Blue Eyes, and then the prospect of not being able to get out from under that shadow and assert your own individuality as a singer. That, however, is not the situation with Jonathan Poretz, a jazz vocalist hailing from the San Francisco area who has spent almost two years depicting Sinatra in the production of Dick Feeney and Sandy Hackett’s Tribute to Frank, Sammy, Joey & Dean (the Rat Pack). As my fingers were busy, pounding out this article on my keyboard, Poretz was just returning from the Tribute’s four-night stint in Springfield, Massachusetts. San Francisco, Las Vegas, Boston and Memphis are other favorite hosts for the production. In January of this year, Poretz released his debut album A Lot of Livin’ to Do and continues to demonstrate both on and off the stage, the self-assuredness that all good performers have. While Poretz’s vocals have a swagger similar to Bobby Darin and are full of energy, his offstage demeanor is more relaxed as he exudes a quiet confidence that seems to say, ‘I am living in the moment.’ The affable singer took time recently to discuss his CD comprised of vintage, mostly romantic tunes and touring as a cast member in the Feeney/Hackett production. Concerning his characterization by one reviewer as being jaunty, Poretz says, “I am trying to be me as much as I can and that being said of the people that I listen to, clearly Sinatra was a master of the lyric and a master of rhythm. I am a huge fan of Mel Tormé and I appreciate Bobby Darin because of his swagger. Those guys are probably the foundation (of his style) and you can throw in a little Tony Bennett.” Most of all, however, Poretz brings his own life experiences, emotions and affinity for swinging standards to the songs he sings. Some of the vibrant energy that infuses the songs comes from his earlier days in music when he was part of a pop rock band in New York City, although he laughingly admits, “It is nothing that I would ever want released.” He also draws upon his experience in theater even prior to his days in the Tribute to Frank, Sammy, Joey & Dean (the Rat Pack). “What resonated more for me (back in the day) was jazz and the standards. I love standards and most of them came out of Broadway shows. People forget when they listen to lyrics that they were written for a purpose and they tell a story and advance the story. I am keen to that,” he says before adding, “I am one with the rhythm and I am one with the music. I think what comes out of that is me as opposed to trying to be something.” “People have said that I have a very natural old style of swing. (There are some) young people coming up today who try to sing swing jazz but it is not organic,” says Poretz. He makes the point that what makes it easier for him to sing this style of music is he has taken time to understand the music, the people who wrote it and the singers who performed the tunes. Despite his brief foray into the world of pop rock, Poretz has deep roots in the world of jazz that originate within his teenage years, when he began singing with bands in his hometown of New York City. “I was very fortunate because the guys in those bands were pretty heavy hitters. I was surrounded by some fine players and I had to listen intimately to the music. It is different from being in the audience. When you are there in the mix, you get to absorb a lot of music. When I think about it, a lot of my jazz foundation came from being in that mix. So when I began singing jazz, it was very natural to me. I think if anything, my natural sense of rhythm has given me a good sensibility,” says Poretz recalling his days performing with such luminaries as Charlie Shavers, Chuck Wayne and Joe Puma. Those same sensibilities no doubt came into play when it came time for Poretz to choose the musicians that would play on A Lot of Livin’ to Do. Drummer Harold Jones was a no brainer because Poretz frequently sings with the Harold Jones Boss Men big band. Jones also is a highly respected artist who performed with Count Basie, Sara Vaughan and in recent years with Tony Bennett. Jones’ beats can be heard on four of the tracks, “A Lot of Livin’ to Do,” “My Time of Day/I’ve Never Been In Love Before,” “On the Street Where You Live” and “Just One of Those Things.” "Harold sees himself as a session man who is supporting the singer, which is interesting because if you hear some of the old Basie stuff that he did, he can take a solo like no one else. (he says emphatically) He is a great drummer! (he repeats the statement for effect) He is this metronome and his timing is impeccable. Harold just lays it down simply. All you need with him is a high-hat and you are going. He has the kind of drive that once that train moves, it goes and just goes. It doesn’t matter what tempo you set, Harold will make it swing and I have noticed that many, many times singing with his big band. He brings simplicity to the sound,” says Poretz. Unfortunately due to tour commitments with Tony Bennett, Jones was not available to record the entire album, however, it gave Poretz an opportunity to team up with another drummer friend Vince Lateano who often joins him for gigs. Concerning Lateano who Poretz refers to as a “wonderful accompaniment for a singer,” he says, “He sets me up beautifully (while singing). Vince has been my (performance) mentor in many ways. All of the little things that I have learned over the years have been a result of Vince.” Noel Jewkes is another of the fine musicians appearing on this album and it seems as though there are few instruments that he has not mastered. Jewkes is equally excellent on the tenor sax, clarinet, flute and valve trombone. Jeff Neighbor and Pierre Josephs both appear as bassists, while pianist Lee Bloom also co-arranged the charts with Poretz. “I first heard Lee at a club in San Francisco and was impressed by his lyrical sense. I introduced myself to him as a kid coming up and we hit it off immediately. Many of these arrangements evolved over time from performing them at gigs. I wanted to have some arrangements that were unique and not run of the mill (but at the same time) not complicated. I had a lot of the ideas conceptually and I was able to flesh them out working with Lee. When you add Noel Jewkes’ take on things, sketches of the arrangements literally came together in the studio. We would do one take and on the second take, most often we nailed it,” Poretz says. During the past two years as a result of touring with Tribute to Frank, Sammy, Joey & Dean (the Rat Pack), Poretz has expanded his vocal range. “I really had to go to Frank (Sinatra) school and listen more intently than I usually did to nail his phrasing. I think as a result, my singing is better partly from listening to him sing so much. I am a tenor, but Frank was a baritone so by doing his keys night after night, I have expanded my range considerably and it is a great bonus,” says Poretz. If you live in the Bay area, you may want to try to catch Jonathan Poretz at LJ’s Martini Club, Jazz@Shanhai 1930 or The Ritz Carlton in Half Moon Bay. He can also be heard singing with the Starduster Orchestra big band ( and as the featured vocalist with the Joe Agro Sextet.

Profile by Andrew Gilbert In Contra Costa Times

Imitation can be a creative cul-de-sac for musicians, a dead end in the essential search for a personal sound. But it can also unlock new avenues, enabling a performer to expand and refine his or her own vision. For the suave baritone vocalist Jonathan Poretz, the opportunity to step into the larger-than-life shoes of Frank Sinatra has proved liberating rather than confining. Long an admirer of pioneering jazz singer Mel Torme, Poretz has spent much of the past 18 months starring in various productions of "The Tribute to Frank, Sammy, Joey & Dean," a role he recently reprised at the Marines Memorial Theatre in a show rechristened "The Rat Pack Is Back." The singer has discovered that becoming a student of Sinatra's technique has deepened his own approach, which was already built upon a jaunty sense of swing. "I never tried to sing like Frank before, and then I had to emulate his phrasing and breath control," Poretz said from his home in San Rafael. "I went to Sinatra school for a year and a half, and I feel I'm a much more effortless singer." Poretz celebrates the release of his debut album "A Lot of Livin' to Do" (Pacific Coast Jazz) tonight at Jazz at Pearl's in North Beach, where he's joined by the same top-shelf cast that accompanies him on the CD, including pianist/arranger Lee Bloom, bassist Jeff Neighbor, ace drummer Vince Lateano and reed master Noel Jewkes. Born and raised in Bayside, Queens, Poretz gravitated toward music as a child. By 16, he was performing in a wedding band stocked with underemployed jazz greats such as trumpeters Charlie Shavers and Snooky Young and guitarists Barney Kessel, Chuck Wayne and Joe Puma. While he was singing pop tunes, he was listening to the jazz veterans and soaking up the music's harmonic language and rhythmic pulse. "Hearing those changes and improvisations, getting swing inside my system, that was an education," Poretz said. But as he became an adult, he moved away from music. By the time Poretz relocated to the Bay Area in 1995, his passion for performing had lain dormant for two decades. Two life-changing events, the birth of his daughter and death of his mother, jolted him into a creative crisis. "I realized that I'm wasting my life not doing what I have a passion for," Poretz said. At first he channeled his energy into musical theater, but before long he realized that singing was his true love. He started sitting in where he could and working local gigs around Marin County. He scored one breakthrough when drummer Harold Jones, a master who put in long stints with Count Basie, Ella Fitzgerald and Sarah Vaughan, encouraged him to bring in charts to perform with his big band (Jones also plays on four tracks of "A Lot of Livin' to Do"). Looking to break into the San Francisco scene, he approached pianist Lee Bloom one night at Jazz Club Nouveau, a short-lived jazz spot near Fisherman's Wharf. Impressed by Bloom's touch and lyricism, Poretz hired him for a gig, and once they started working together, Bloom quickly came to appreciate the singer's sense of purpose. The pianist has included him regularly on his gigs at the Orinda House, and they perform there next on Feb. 15. "I started to realize he's a serious guy," Bloom said. "He had a maturity and commitment that I picked up right away. He's somebody who has a genuine love of theater. He knows all the shows, and that passion informs his performance. He's got a real natural sense of rhythm in his phrasing, a real feel for bebop syncopation." In developing arrangements for the album, Bloom used Fred Astaire's classic 1952 Verve album "Steppin' Out" as a model, drawing on its lithe, uncluttered feel (in a coincidence, the Astaire session features trumpeter Shavers and guitarist Kessel, two of Poretz's associates from his teenage years as a wedding singer). While Poretz rarely ventures into unexpected territory in his repertoire, his taste in songs is impeccable. Whether crooning the perfect Rodgers & Hart ballad "It Never Entered My Mind" or swinging ebulliently on the Harold Alren/Johnny Mercer chestnut "Come Rain or Come Shine," Poretz projects a forthright masculinity, vulnerable but virile, that often seems to have disappeared with the lost art of male jazz singing (Kurt Elling is the only male vocalist under 40 I can think of with a similar swagger). While Poretz made sure to avoid slipping into his Sinatra persona for the recording session, he does share Ol' Blue Eyes' appreciation of jazz accompanists. "At Pearl's, I want to leave room for lots of improvisation," Poretz said. "I want the guys to have fun. I mean, Noel Jewkes is an amazing player. He's so lyrical, he's really a singer, too."

Jonathan Joins Pacific Coast Jazz

San Diego-based Record Label, Pacific Coast Jazz, Signs Bay Area Vocalist, Jonathan Poretz Agreement anticipates the release of Poretz' solo recording, "A Lot of Livin' To Do" San Diego, CA Oct 31, 2006 San Diego- based independent record label, Pacific Coast Jazz, today announced the signing of San Francisco-based jazz vocalist, Jonathan Poretz. The agreement anticipates the release of Poretz’ solo recording, "A Lot of Livin’ To Do," slated for a street date of January 16, 2007. “The quality of Jonathan’s work and his unique voice is outstanding,” says Donna Nichols, founder and president of Pacific Coast Jazz. “This recording is exceptional and well produced. It fits perfectly in the stable of product we like to be involved in.” Nichols’ label also will handle artist management services for Poretz and will provide him access to national media buying. "A Lot of Livin’ To Do" is self-produced and arranged along with Lisa Baney on production and Lee Bloom arranging. It features an all-star band, including legendary Count Basie drummer Harold Jones and San Francisco reed player Noel Jewkes, who back Poretz on jazz standards ranging from hard-swinging, scat- infused numbers to beautiful, smoky ballads. “Poretz’ superb musicality, solid jazz chops and unique gift for interpreting a lyric make this a powerful album, filled with new interpretations and arrangements of some of the best songs ever written. Lovers of The Great American Songbook will want to take notice,” says Nichols. Blending the swinging vocal stylings of Sinatra, Torme, Bennett and Darin, Jonathan is equally comfortable performing with a trio or a 17-piece big band, putting his own unique stamp on every song he sings and every story he tells through the great American standard songbook. The Rat Pack Is Back Jonathan has been appearing as Frank Sinatra in the “The Rat Pack Is Back” in San Francisco, Las Vegas, Boston and Memphis. He also appears regularly at various Bay Area venues, including LJ’s Martini Club, Jazz @ Shanghai 1930 and Le Colonial. He is also a regular vocalist with the Harold Jones Boss Men big band, led by legendary drummer Harold Jones, the beat behind Count Basie in the ‘70s and Sarah Vaughan in the ‘80s, and currently on tour with Tony Bennett. Past appearances with the Boss Men included performances at the Russian River and Calistoga Jazz Festivals. About Pacific Coast Jazz Pacific Coast Jazz, founded in 2003, is a boutique jazz label that also offers artist management services. Their catalogue also includes the recordings of jazz flutist, Bradley Leighton and jazz vocalist Sherri Roberts. Donna Nichols, the label’s founder and president, is formerly a successful communications executive in the biotech industry. “The label has allowed me to follow my passion for music and draw upon all of my experience in the corporate world,” says Nichols. Website: PCJ Artists All artists on the Pacific Coast Jazz label have access to Pacific Coast Jazz’s distribution channel, Big Daddy Music in the United States. The label is currently looking for distribution in other countries of the world. For interviews with Pacific Coast Jazz or Jonathan Poretz, please contact Pacific Coast Jazz. Website: Pacific Coast Jazz Donna Nichols email: phone: 619-405-3900

Who Is Jonathan Poretz?

     Some say he was born with a microphone in his hand.  That would explain why Pacific Coast Jazz artist Jonathan Poretz is so comfortable performing his brand of great American jazz standards to audiences large and small. 

     He has written and starred in several highly acclaimed shows, including "Sex, Swagger & Swing: Sinatra and Darin in the Concert That Never Was," and "Sinatra, Dino, Darin and Davis -- When Vegas Was VEGAS!", which made its bi-coastal debut at Feinstein’s at the Nikko in San Francisco and Feinstein’s/54 Below in New York City.

     His latest jazz CD, At Last… Songs For Elena, is scheduled for release on the Pacific Coast Jazz label in September 2018.

Sex, Swagger & Swing Promo

When Vegas Was VEGAS! Promo

Where He'll Be

  • January 26, 2020
    Lesher Center for the Arts - Hofmann Theatre, Walnut Creek, CA
  • January 31, 2020
    Club Deluxe, San Francisco, CA
  • March 6, 2020
    Top Of The Mark - Mark Hopkins Hotel, SF, San Francisco
  • March 7, 2020
    Top Of The Mark - Mark Hopkins Hotel, SF, San Francisco

Where He's Been

    * Feinstein's at the Nikko, San Francisco

    * Feinstein's/54 Below, New York City

    * SFJazz, San Francisco

    * The Sound Room, Oakland, CA

    * Yoshi's, Oakland, CA

    * Yoshi's, San Francisco

    * Throckmorton Theatre, Mill Valley, CA

    * Lesher Center, Walnut Creek, CA

    * Bankhead Theater, Livermore, CA  

    * Firehouse Theater, Pleasanton, CA

    * Montgomery Theater, San Jose, CA

    * Grand Theater, Tracy, CA

    * The Arkley Theater, Eureka, CA

    * The Rrazz Room, San Francisco

Want To Hear From Jonathan?