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DJ Flops as Singer

Wednesday, August 06, 2014

I was the flopping singer, long ago. On the other hand, The Times reviews were excellent, for eleven years. Take that, Mr. Daily News.

Michael's Pub was the night club. Woody Allen played the clarinet every Monday night. I didn't meet him for thirty years.

In my performance, Sinatra was audible. I could hear him as I sang, so influential was he. I didn't sing his songs, I sang my father's songs, Jerome Kern songs, Harold Arlen songs, and Rodgers songs left untouched by Sinatra. Eventually, as the years wandered by, Sinatra slipped out of my singing, for the most part. He had recorded five songs by my father and had sung two others on the radio, a total of three more than Duke Ellington but forty fewer than Rodgers. I did two shows a night with a band of experts: Bucky Pizzarelli, Jay Leonhart, Phil Bodner, Mel Lewis, George Duvivier, Mike Renzi, and my beloved Tone Monte as pianist and arranger and intimate friend. My girl friend, Sally Keeble, once said that Monte "delivered me from mediocrity to a vague sort of acceptability."

This Sally Keeble, a young woman of absolute beauty, could not be fooled. We argued once while walking on Fifth Avenue. Finally I said to her: "You are a tough cooky." She shot back, with a slightly raised voice and an alarming tension : "And you are half baked." Oh the depth of it, the truth of it. How could she even be seen with me, this long red- haired, large bosomed, thin limbed, Harvard graduate, with three years in Rome tucked into her respectable resumé. Who, on the other hand, praised my novels and short stories. That meant something to me. It was enough to keep me going, even with a wobbly self respect. And so I sang, Sinatra be damned. There is much more to tell you about night club life, and I will, down through the vast corridors of time.

I will.

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Comments [18]

STEWIE BITTERMAN from Sarasota

I spent many a wonderful night with you at Michaels Pub. And I also remember seeing you at a small pub down around the 20s on the east side. I have been a loyal fan of yours since the WNEW FM days with Alison Steele

Aug. 08 2014 08:53 AM
Mitchell Freedman from Poway, CA

How to get Jonathan Channel in the car? See if your car has the capability to plug in your iPhone. If it does, click on the Jonathan Channel and plug in the iPhone to your car. I do it and I get the full speakers' sound and it is great to be able to drive the car and listen to the Jonathan Channel.

Aug. 07 2014 09:39 AM
Paul from Wells, Maine

Would it be too much to ask, please play one of your own recordings on the Sunday Show? I have always admired your speaking voice, it would be a pleasure to hear you sing.

Many thanks,

Paul

Aug. 07 2014 02:10 AM
frank donato from stratford, ct.

Went to Michael's Pub and saw Mel Torme, he was great, I believe he had Jay Lenhart and Tony Monte accompany him. I have 2 of the albums you recorded enjoy them immensely. I attended your last Christmas show at WQEW,Anne Hampton Callaway,Tony Bennett,and others,one of the most entertaining shows I ever observed live. Nothing like a large blossomed long hair red head to keep you grounded.

Aug. 06 2014 09:39 PM
A fan in New Hampshire from Hudson, NH

I own a record album titled "Alone Together - Jonathan Schwartz sings Arthur Schwartz." It's one of my prized possessions.

Aug. 06 2014 09:31 PM
Ken from Melbourne, Australia

Dear Jonathan,

Thank you for sharing your reflections on singing. All of us, I am certain, look forward to hearing more.

I too saw you at Michael's Pub, bought all the albums and still enjoy listening to them.

And as good as it was, your candour in describing the challenges of singing make the memories of Michael's Pub even better.

Aug. 06 2014 09:06 PM
Still Martha Magee

P.S.

Every flop has a flip side.

Yours became a HIT!

And that's the guy we LOVE.

SHINE ON !!

Aug. 06 2014 04:53 PM
Jerry Wichinsky from Jersey

Jonno--
You do not do yourself justice. I had seen you many times at Michael's Pub and throughly enjoyed your singing. And yes, I bought your album!As you know, I am a long time fan of your radio show--and yes, aslo your singing!
Jerry

Aug. 06 2014 04:25 PM
Martha Magee from Narragansett

Jonathan,

I love your honesty.

And Sally Keeble is becoming a household word around here.

Her ears should be really hot by now.

Love,
Martha

Aug. 06 2014 04:18 PM
John Coleman from SanDiego

I left a comment and it never displayed. Why?

Aug. 06 2014 03:24 PM
John Coleman from San Diego

Hi Jonathon,

By the time I came to New York, 1977, I think you had already retired from your singing gig. In any case, I was chasing my own dreams and did far to little clubbing. In any case, as a young man I was a disc jockey, too, (1948 to 57)and have great admiration for your extraordinary style. Your knowledge of the music of the great American song book is unequaled. I now listen to The Jonathon Channel was I play poker every day in retirement (every day is Saturday and I love it)but miss you when I am in the car and stuck with 40s on 4, which is not bad but not great and far too limited in the scope of it's music. I am anxious to have you back in the car. I hear ads now for an auto hot spot system (Buick) and may have to invest in one if you don't get The Jonathon Channel on SiriusXM or some other automotive friendly setup. Let us know as soon as you can when you will be in the car and how it will work.

Aug. 06 2014 02:39 PM
mac carson


through much diligence I have acquired your albums ( that is 33 1/3 long playing albums ) through ebay and have enjoyed them very much. Your rendition of "every little star" remains my personal favorite. I always laugh when you talk about singing in the Ramada Inn because I have always said if I have been with blessed musical talent it would have been just enough to play in a Ramada Inn. I suffered depression last July when you announced you were leaving XM only to be replaced with joy when I learned of the Jonathan Channel. I will be forever listening. Thank you. Your eternal fan, Mac Carson Dalton, GA

Aug. 06 2014 02:25 PM
Lisa Popa from Honesdale, Pa.

I sold quite a few of your CD's Jonathan. I too enjoy your singing and your intelligence in delivering a lyric. I have always enjoyed the interpretation from an artist/singer who can deliver the element of raw emotion over the sugar coating of a pretty sound. We argue with lumps in our throats and spit slightly when we are excited. Good singers do the same...you are in that field.

Aug. 06 2014 02:17 PM
Captain Eddie from Villanova, PA.

I don't think you "flopped" at all as a singer. I saw you a number of times at Michael's (55th & third) and enjoyed you and Tony Monte greatly.
I'm pretty critical, and I thought, and still think you did just fine !
Thank you for having the courage to get up there (then) and perform. It
couldn't have been easy. It was a tough audience. But you did it.
Congratulations

Aug. 06 2014 01:54 PM
Ella Ford

My parents, my husband and I saw you perform at Michael's Pub and enjoyed it immensely. We are somewhat biased toward your singing career. My husband and I fell in love to your album "New Sun in the Sky". We are about to celebrate 35 years together.

Aug. 06 2014 01:02 PM
Martin Teplitzky from New York City

Jonathan,

I caught you at Michael's Pub rather often. I have your albums on vinyl. You were great! Yes, one could hear Sinatra's phrasing, but phrasing songs in that manner is the way these tunes should be sung. I remember meeting you in the 1980's at the Statler Hilton. You were hosting a big band evening there. I corralled you for a moment and asked "When are you going to record again?" You responded something to the effect, "Never again. I wasn't very good." My reply then and now....."You were wonderful. Please reconsider." Thanks, as well, for keeping the torch burning.

Your fan,
Marty Teplitzky

Aug. 06 2014 12:16 PM
Don Paul from East Amherst NY

I remember you once saying on your WNEW-AM show that Sinatra was so much in the pocket on many songs that you found it irresistable but to fall into that pocket. I believe you used his phrasing on "How About You?" to prove your point, singing a few bars.

Aug. 06 2014 12:07 PM
marc auster from Orlando suburbs

I live in Central Florida and miss you on satellite radio. What happened?

Aug. 06 2014 11:14 AM

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