I had the privilege of seeing Nick Ziobro in his debut at Birdland this week. What a great show — my only complaint is that it didn’t last longer — 90 minutes wasn’t nearly enough.
We’ve been seeing Nick Ziobro singing around New York for two years now – it was in 2012 that he won Great American Songbook High School Vocal Academy and Competition and first began making cameo appearances at Feinstein’s at the Regency, and went on tour with Michael Feinstein. Last fall, he made his debut at Rose Hall as part of the Mabel Mercer Foundation’s Annual Cabaret Convention, and now, at the ripe old age of 17, he has both recorded his first album – aptly titled A Lot of Livin’ to Do – and made his “solo” debut at Birdland, a big time New York nightclub.
For the whole of his career, his mentor has been that sage of the songbook, Michael Feinstein, who serves as executive producer of Nick’s album and also appeared as a special guest at Birdland. “It’s a joy to present the formidable talent of Nick Ziobro,” says Michael. “He has charisma, freshness and charm, plus skill, taste and musical intelligence. In addition, Nick possesses an amazing maturity beyond his young years. I’m impressed with the way he has taken these timeless songs and made them his own, and that is no small feat! When he toured with me last summer, the audiences were clearly as taken with him as I was. Nick is a stellar vocalist and superb artist. It’s evident that we’re going to hear much more from him in the coming years.”
The astonishing thing about seeing Nick live in performance is that for the first three or four songs, one is incredibly impressed that a teenager can perform with so much depth, on a musical, a technical, and an emotional level. But by the time you’re ten minutes into one of his shows, you’ve completely forgotten that you’re seeing a 17-year-old – he wins you over so thoroughly as a performer that soon it could matter less how old or young he is.
As Will Friedwald wrote in The Wall Street Journal, many young singers, “can eke out an imitation of the swinging and slick side of Sinatra or Bobby Darin, but Mr. Ziobro is the extremely rare youngster who croons not only with an understanding of the lyrics but of the emotions behind them. Furthermore, his new debut album, A Lot of Livin’ to Do, produced by mentor Michael Feinstein (who join Mr. Ziobro at Birdland) and expertly arranged by Tedd Firth, shows a lesson learned from Tony Bennett – that there’s nothing wrong with taking a song title literally.”
I have a feeling that years from now I’ll be bragging to people that I heard Nick sing at his first concert and even had the chance to chat with him, his mom and aunt!