Whether you’re a movie buff or just someone with basic cable, the mere mention of the words “As Time Goes By” is bound to provoke memories of Ingrid Bergman’s quivering lips, Humphrey Bogart’s stony gaze, and – most of all – Dooley “Sam” Wilson’s rich bass voice. Now that the Jason Raso Quartet will be performing the song as part of their show “Jazz Goes to the Movies,” one wonders: is it intimidating to try to recapture one of the most famous songs in pop culture history?
“Not as a bass player,” laughed Raso. But, in all seriousness, “I try not to think about that. I think you’re trying to interpret the song as best you can. ‘As Time Goes By’ is obviously associated with Casablanca, but you just try to do a good job with the song and not worry too much about what it’s associated with.”
Indeed, Raso welcomes the influence of the late Mr. Wilson. “I’m big on preparation, so I basically try to find as many versions of the songs as I can … I like to have a good sense of where the song is coming from,” said Raso.
‘As Time Goes By’ will not be the only Hollywood perennial that will be played again. The quartet and their soloists will also perform such standards as “My Funny Valentine” (from Babes in the Woods), “Cheek to Cheek” (Top Hat), and “The Way We Were” (from the Streisand weepie of the same name), among others.
“The idea came about from Mary-Catherine McNinch-Pazzano, who is one of the singers on the show,” said Raso. “We kind of stumbled upon that we had a mutual interest in classic movies – stuff from the ‘40s and ‘50s. We though it would be great sometime to do a show where we could do some of that music. We pitched it to Lawrence [McNaught] at the Registry, and he was all over it, so it worked out well.”
In addition to McNich-Pazzano, the soloists are Joni NehRita, Tim Louis, and Derek Hinds. In addition tap dancer Amy Lintunen will be on hand to bring back memories of Fred Astaire (talk about tough competition!).
“When we got the four vocalists onboard, I just let them make their choices,” said Raso. “I didn’t have a lot of say in what tunes people picked, mostly because you just want the singers to be comfortable and have the songs mean something to them. In this case, it was just up to the singers to sing their tunes.”
In its current form, the Jason Raso Quartet has been performing for about a year, with Thomas Hammerton on piano, Adam Bowman on drums, and Brent Rowan manning the saxophone. “The more you play together, and the more you get to know everybody, the band can’t help but improve, and get a better sense of what it’s going to do,” explained Raso. “The band keeps evolving, and hopefully we keep getting better.”
He continued, “I think it’s going to be a fun night. It’s a talented band and a great group of singers and a great dancer, so it’s going to be a fun show.”
Of all the gin joints in all the theatres in all the world, the Jason Raso Quartet will perform at the Registry Theatre, as part of the “Jazz at the Registry” program on May 24. Tickets are $25, and can be bought in advance by calling 519-578-1570, or through www.centre-square.com.