by Rita Charleston
Bruce Klauber, journalist, author, public relations professional, drummer and a working jazz musician since childhood almost six decades ago, brings his “Bruce Klauber Swings Frank Sinatra” to the stage of Chestnut Hill’s Paris Bistro, 8229 Germantown Ave., for the first time on July 12. “Although I usually play the drums at my many appearances, this time I don’t. In fact, I hired a drummer, so I could concentrate on Frank Sinatra’s music. I don’t come out in a hat and raincoat like so many others do, and I don’t try to impersonate him … The fact is the highest compliment I ever received was when someone once said that I embody Sinatra’s musical spirit.”
Klauber’s fascination and friendship with Sinatra actually began while Klauber was attending Temple University and working for the Temple News as an undergraduate studying radio, television and film. “I wrote a story about him and then sent it to his office. From then on, everything I ever wrote about him and others I sent to him.
“Later, when I started writing books, I sent those to him, too. Eventually, he began responding to me, commenting on my writing, and a friendship just developed from there.” Today Klauber maintains ties with the Sinatra family, including promoting the recent Philadelphia debut of Sinatra’s granddaughter, vocalist AJ Lambert. Klauber brought Lambert to Dino’s Backstage in Glenside as part of a “Sinatra Weekend.”
Over the years, the Center City resident has combined his love of writing with his love of music, writing and co-producing Warner Brothers documentaries on Buddy Rich and Gene Krupa, among others. “And all the while, Frank was reading my work and continuing to be very good to me. I vowed that I would do whatever I could do to be good to Frank musically by carrying on his musical spirit with a jazz focus.”
Klauber recently published his third book, “Reminiscing in Tempo.” He has also produced a historic reissue CD for the prestigious Dot Time Legacy Series record label, a never-released live jazz concert of the Gene Krupa Quartet in 1966. It may have been released by the time this article comes out, and it will come out on vinyl in October.
In his musical tribute to Sinatra at the Chestnut Hill musical venue, Klauber will give his audience the songs and spirit of Old Blue Eyes while explaining the back stories of the man and his music, many of which are detailed in Klauber’s book, “Reminiscing in Tempo: Farewells and Recollections of Showbiz, Jazz and Drums.”
Klauber, 66, grew up in Overbrook Park and played his first professional job when he was eight years old at the Ben Franklin Hotel in Center City with Stu Harris and his Orchestra. “It was a Bar Mitzvah, and I was paid $45 for the gig.” Bruce has performed with many jazz greats, such as Charlie Ventura, Milt Buckner, Bernard Peiffer and Joanie Sommers, to name just a few. You might say that music is in Bruce’s DNA. His mother, born Frances Schwartz in 1913, played piano, sang and danced in vaudeville. His brother, Joel, became a singer, drummer and musicologist.
Klauber graduated from Temple University with a Bachelor’s in Radio/Television/Film in 1975. He was awarded an Honorary Doctorate in Music from Combs College of Music in 1986 for his contributions to jazz scholarship and musical performance. He co-founded the All-Star Jazz Trio in 1972, which is still going strong. He says he chose to play jazz because “I found that jazz is the best way to express myself at the moment. It’s the only way to get my emotions out.”
Klauber has performed this show before at many area venues to enthusiastic and appreciative audiences, and says he looks forward to his debut at Paris Bistro. As for the future, Klauber explains that he just has to wait and see. “But my goal is to keep that toe-tapping music going as I play for others to the very best of my ability for as long as I’m able. Other than that, I’d just like to get up tomorrow and see what the day brings.”
“Bruce Klauber Swings Frank Sinatra” will be performed July 12 at 7, 8:30 and 10 p.m. Reservations are available at 215-242-6200 or parisbistro.net