Patrizio Buanne sees himself as a musical chef putting together the right ingredients. That why his music and his musicians come from such diverse places. Some of the players have experience working with pop and rock acts. Others primarily are known for jazz and some have an R&B background.
“Why do I combine musicians from different fields? Because it’s all about flavor,” Buanne said during a telephone interview from New York. “I pick musicians just like you pick ingredients when you cook. I want to give people something to enjoy that’s very healthy, very organic and very tasty.”
The Monday Musical Club audience clearly enjoyed its first serving. Buanne opened it 2012-13 season, and the response was so great that organizers brought him back to open the 2013-14 season on Friday at Stambaugh Auditorium.
Monday Musical Club co-manager Stacy Judge said, “People just love him. They loved hearing the mix of Italian and English songs … People were knocking down the doors the opening day of sales.”
Buanne has a multicultural background. He was born in Naples, Italy, and split his childhood between Italy and Austria. He studied Slavic languages at university and is fluent in Italian, German, English, French, Spanish and Polish.
He brings that same multicultural approach to his music. Best known in America for his interpretations of Italian love songs, Buanne also has recorded American standards and originals for English speaking audiences and has strengthened his international appeal by releasing albums in German and Afrikaans, which is spoken in South Africa.
Buanne strives for the diverse appeal of such artists as Elvis Presley, Tom Jones and Dean Martin but with his own twist.
“It’s very European,” he said. “As the Italian-Americans call it, I’m from the old country. There’s no point to do what people have here and be some sort of tribute to Frank Sinatra. I’m bringing real Italian flavor to America.”
His most recent U.S. release, “Patrizio,” includes such familiar songs as “Fly Me to the Moon,” “Crazy” and “Mambo Italiano.” Buanne said the goal is to put his own stamp on the song while not destroying its original essence.
“I respect the song so much I don’t want to take the song out of its natural charisma. A song has a vibe, like ‘Mambo Italiano,’ sung by Rosemary Clooney, or ‘Fly Me to the Moon.’ I don’t want to come in as this young guy from Europe who takes this song and tries to reinvent the bicycle. I interpret and perform the song as if it was written yesterday but keeping the soul of the song.”
Buanne compared those songs to classic car lines like Ferrari or Cadillac.
“It has to have the timeless comfort or class of what the car is known for, but it needs to adapt with the times. It needs to have an airbag, it needs to have an mp3 player … If I would come and perform the song like it was done 60 years ago, sure, all the grandladies would be charmed, but I would be nostalgic entertainment and end up sooner or later on a cruise ship.
“What makes my music accessible to three generations is I just interpret it honestly, it’s just how I feel. That’s why I have no problem putting ‘Mambo Italiano’ alongside a new song I wrote or was written for me.”
Buanne said his next album will be released around Valentine’s Day, and it will put a greater emphasis on Italian songs and originals that “Patrizio” did and feature less of the Great American Songbook.
“I don’t want to take the job of Harry Connick Jr. or Norah Jones or Barry Manilow,” he said. “Those songs come natural to them. These songs come natural to me.”
With a repertoire filled with love songs and his rugged good looks, Buanne has a large female fan base, but he believes it’s how he sounds and not how he looks that is important for his future.
“I want to be remembered as a great performer, not a pretty face,” he said. “I haven’t been invented by the industry. I didn’t go on ‘American Idol.’ I sing what I want to sing. I’d rather be hated for who I am than loved for what I am not.”