Commack native JB Baretsky is making jazz cool again. The 25-year-old singer/songwriter is working on perfecting his vintage sound and style and bringing it to new audiences at shows this summer and fall. In between performances and time in the recording studio Baretsky spoke with Pulse Insider about how he got his start in music, what kids these days need to do more and more.
JB Baretsky: I performed my first jazz standard on stage at a bar in Kings Park, New York, which can only be described as a dive, in January of 2009. After doing countless shows like that my longtime friend and now manager, Raj Tawney, listened to a demo, which I had recorded in a friend’s basement. Raj decided he wanted to work with me.
Pulse Insider: Who/What are your greatest musical influences?
JB Baretsky: Well obviously, I take a huge chunk of my musical and on stage style from the Rat Pack, specifically Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, and Sammy Davis Jr. I also draw a lot of influence from lesser-known performers of the same period such as Johnny Ray and Carmen Mcrae. There is always something about that lone performer, on stage, armed only with a mic, and their talent, that still holds a great amount of power even in today’s world of auto-tune, pyrotechnics, and back-up dancers.
Pulse Insider: How do you describe your music to someone you just met?
JB Baretsky: When I get asked about my music, the first words out of my mouth are Frank Sinatra. His name is the most recognizable in regards to the style of music I love. Then I talk about my goal of my overall performance, which is to completely entertain the audience in any, and all ways I am capable. My act has been fined tuned over the last 5 years, to familiar jazz standards, improv or scripted comedy, and even an impression or two. This is what’s left from a performance which used to contain, juggling, cartwheels, and playing the trumpet while standing on top of an audience members table, among other things. My mission is always to “wow” and audience musically, comically, emotionally, and even physically. (If possible)
Pulse Insider: What is in store for you over the next three months?
JB Baretsky: I played at the Clare Rose Playhouse in July and I’ll be performing at the 25th Anniversary of St. Joseph’s College on September 26. I will also be in the studio re-tooling some original music as well as standards. I have been doing mostly stand-up for the last few months so I am extremely eager to get back on my musical horse.
Pulse Insider: Give us your five-word record label pitch
JB Baretsky: DREAMS AND HARD WORK. SELL.
Pulse Insider: Tell us your hometown, where you live now and whatever biographical details you’d like to share:
JB Baretsky: I’m from Commack New York and still reside here. I was told once that my dream of being a professional entertainer was stupid. Obviously I did not listen but, I fear that is the overall message being feed to young kids today. Dreams are stupid, think responsibly. Well that’s not acceptable; children need to be allowed to dream about growing up and becoming musicians, actors, artists, teachers, firefighters and police officers. Isn’t that what makes this country great? “Dream a Little Dream.” I beg you.
I wake up every morning and all I can think about is being on stage. Luckily for me I’ve had support from my parents, my manager, and my close friends, who have pushed me to go on even when the naysayers tried to whisper in my ear. It’s not about fame, it’s not about money, its about doing something I feel, I was put here to do.