Like a chapter straight out of Glee, Nick Ziobro was just a 16-year-old high school senior in upstate New York, singing in the student choir, when he decided to enter the 2012 Great American Songbook Vocal Competition, Michael Feinstein’s showcase for young talent.
Ziobro won both the competition and ongoing support from Feinstein, who books him regularly as his opening act and produced this debut album. Backed by a top-drawer sextet featuring guitarist Bucky Pizzarelli, bassist Jay Leonhart, drummer Ray Marchica and pianist Tedd Firth (who also serves as musical director and arranger), Ziobro demonstrates a laidback but solid sense of swing-Perry Como with a Michael Bublé chaser. There’s also plenty of Bublé in his voice, though with an intriguing hint of Chet Baker fragility.
Firth opts for light, bright charts that keep Ziobro front and center. The backing is stylish and sparkling yet never obtrusive, again focusing the spotlight squarely on the bushy-tailed newcomer. The standards-heavy playlist, surely vetted by Feinstein, fits Ziobro well, and he handles upbeat numbers and ballads with consistent ease while strongly echoing his mentor’s elegance and charm.