Looking for a new and different place to spend a quiet evening away from the kids? Looking for a unique place just brimming with a romance, beautiful music, and specialty drinks on hand to round out the perfect setting to take your special someone? Whether it’s making a first impression or showing that someone how special they are to you, I have the perfect setting; The Turquoise Tiger at the Turning Stone Exit 33.
This venue has been fashioned after 1940’s Film Noir. It features the sexiest specialty drinks around, classic 1940’s period art deco design, photos of the jazz and standards greats, and featuring some of today’s most sought after musicians to entertain you. Seated by a dapper young man decked out in a zoot suit, it’s as though you are transformed into a different era the moment you step inside the doors.
I recently had the opportunity to visit the venue and meet one of the regular musicians, Devin Bing. Devin hails from New York City and his blend of sultry crooning, and jazzy beats of the great standards bring a toe tapping mix t0 some of my all time favorite tunes.
In between sets of his show, Devin so generously sat down to talk with us recently about his music, his inspirations, and his future plans.
Kathy Stockbridge (KS): Hi There. I am so super impressed with you. With your talent. You are so young to love this genre of music. Tell me how did you come to play this type of music.
Devin Bing (DB): I know right. I am a product of my environment. My mother is a cabaret singer and actress, and my father started a live theater off-Broadway, very off-Broadway in Long Island. So I grew up with Gershwin, and all that music. So the music again, was a product of my environment as I heard it all the time. It was just so beautiful to me. I also am into instrumental jazz. Once I heard Miles Davis “Kinda Blue”, I was like “WOW”, love the art of improvisation. That’s why I do the trumpet sound.
KS: That was amazing, I was blown away by your vocal talents beyond just the singing.
DB: When I was growing up and studying music, and I was evolving as a musician and singer, fascinating to me was George Benson and Ella Fitzgerald’s scatting and their vocal improvisation. I been lucky enough to learn an instrument to improvise on, but to the take the vocal instrument and emulate and turn it into a horn player or something more has always been a passion of mine.
KS: When making note of it I titled it “vocal trumpet”.
DB: You know what I call it? A “Trumouth”. You know a Trumpet + Mouth? It actually has brought me attention for gigs as people see it online and want to book me because of it. But seriously, Miles Davis was a big influence and bridging that vocalist/instrumental thing has always been a passion of mine.
KS: You mentioned you studied music. Did you study through high school, or did you go to a musical college?
DB: Yes, yes I did. I went to University of Miami. Not sure if you are familiar with it, but it’s one of the top 5 jazz schools in the nation. What happened was all the studio musicians from the 60’s and 70’s had a big studio explosion at that time down in Miami. So in the 70’s when all these studio cats, who were jazz players doing studio sessions for the Bee Gee’s and artists like that, got together they decided to stay down there and start a program. And then from the late 70’s on it just grew. So I went down there as a vocalist, but I ended up double majoring in both vocals and piano. It actually was the first time they had someone do that.
KS: After graduation you returned to NY?
DB: Yes. I was living in Miami hustling the scene. But there really wasn’t a scene for me there. It was very club heavy. Very Latin Band. There really wasn’t the cultural scene for what I did. So being from Long Island, I decided to come back home because it was better for what I had decided to do.
KS: So who are your musical influences? I can guess just by listening to your first set list, but I want to hear from you.
DB: No…no I want to hear who you think.
KS: Nat King Cole, Frank Sinatra, Miles Davis, Dizzy Gillespie…maybe Ella….who am I missing?
DB: No you did great…in fact the list goes on and on. When I was younger, when I was 13 or 14 and all my friends were listening to Back Street Boys, I was listening to Miles Davis and Mel Torme. I was an anomaly. I wanted to be the next Harry Connick Jr. Harry Connick Jr. was someone I listened to an it’s funny how when you grow up you emulate artists and you are trying to figure out your sounds, I emulated Harry Connick Jr. Then I got into Stevie Wonder. I was like oh my God, that was like great. I wanted to sing like that. But do it in jazz. I kinda had this soul and Motown meets jazz. In fact my second set of my act features Stevie Wonder. It’s a part one and part two kind of show.
KS: Well I have to say, you blew me away with part one of the show. You sang one of my all time favorites songs, “Nature Boy”. And I loved your jazzy soulful rendition of it. Normally it’s a really slow song, but you breathed a new life into it.
DB: Oh good, and that’s really what’s happening to me in New York where I’m carving a new niche of jazz singing even the standards. Where I’m taking all these traditional songs and turning them on their heads giving them a younger hipper sound.
KS: Do you see a younger crowd coming to your shows? Tonight you have a mix of 30’s, 40’s, 50’s all here appreciating your music. Do you find you audiences getting younger?
DB: Absolutely, I have been headlining a club down in NYC called the Metropolitan. It’s off-Broadway, so being off Broadway there are a lot of cabaret singers and I’m very different. I’m not a cabaret singer, I’m straight jazz and pianist. But I sing a lot of the same songs they sing. We all sing “My Funny Valentine”, we all sing “Nature Boy”, and the Gershwin tunes, but no one sings them the way I do. I did a show at Lincoln Center and it was a show with a lot of cabaret singers. I came out and sang “Fly Me To The Moon”. And all 1,200 people were like…. It’s been really exciting to be able to do music that I love and to be able to keep it alive and give it this fresh facelift.
KS: Do you have any projects going on? Don’t you have a new album you’re working on?
DB: Yes, yes I do and I’m glad you want to hear about it, because I love talking about it. It’s an album called Shaken Not Stirred. Now I wanted to develop a concept that brought back the art of the LP which is a full album. So many people are making mixed tapes of just single songs and whatnot. I wanted to create something that was not just a collaboration of single songs. So I wrote this album to tell a story from beginning to end. I wrote and produced every composition, and I wrote it cinematically so that you are almost listening to a movie. It takes you through this epic love story about a crooner/night club singer, that meets this mysterious woman and goes on this search to find her. After searching for her he finally finds her and asks her to surrender to loving him. They get together only to discover there’s the opposite side of the love where he finds out she’s not exactly everything he had imagined. Then the torment begins. It goes through this element of I want it all or nothing at all. I actually throw the song All of Nothing At All in there where it goes through that part; the addiction of love and how you need it. Then you go through the ultimatum where it’s me or nothing, and then ultimately the last song is about coming to the realization of his destiny. A lot of it is based on Paulo Coelho’s book The Alchemist in the sense of how it focuses on finding your destiny. The moral of it is, whatever love it is you are pursuing, never give up and follow your destiny. There is a lot of layers to it, but ultimately when you listen to it from beginning to end, it’s this love story with beautiful arrangements, and again it’s got this cinematic style.
KS: When can we expect the release of this album? I can’t wait to hear it.
DB: We’re finishing it up and expect a release in early part of 2015.
KS: Are you planning on going out to tour with it?
DB: Absolutely. We’re doing some things in Brooklyn and some throughout NYC, and then after that we’re hoping to be out touring with it.
KS: Well I can’t wait for its release and hearing your new music!
As the interview concluded and he returned to get ready for the second set of the evening this extremely talented young man-made a lasting impression on me. I love to see the music of some of the greatest performers and entertainers of all time continue today with a flair from this new generation. Often compared to Michael Buble’ and Harry Connick Jr., Devin Bing is definitely making a name for himself, while continuing to honor traditional standards in a new soulful way.
I highly recommend a night out at The Turquoise Tiger for a relaxing evening of fine drinks, a timelessly classic atmosphere, and some of the best music around. To catch Devin this month at The Turquoise Tiger, don’t forget to mark your calendars for April 10th and 11th at 9pm when he once again returns.