Raúl di Blasio tickled the ivories, and the audience's funny bone, Saturday at the Greek. (Marvin Vasquez/Living Out Loud LA)
Going into this show, I was quite aware of Raúl di Blasio’s musical repertoire. One thing I didn’t know, however, was the way he could captivate an audience with the most witty, humble anecdotes ever.
Di Blasio’s nearly three-hour performance Saturday night at the Greek Theatre was nothing short of spectacular. Accompanied by his six-member orchestra, which featured drums, percussion, bass, concertina, keyboard, saxophone and clarinet, di Blasio managed to provide a stellar show – via his magical fingers.
But that wasn’t the only feat di Blasio performed; he cracked sensationally funny jokes nonstop. The jokes were mainly derived from personal anecdotes.
For example, minutes after his classy entrance, di Blasio greeted an audience member, Rosemary, who turned out to be a longtime friend of his. With comical sarcasm, he occasionally hinted at the two of them being lovers – something the fans found awfully hilarious, proven by their laughs and loud claps.
What makes di Blasio a rather likeable, if not lovable, person is his unique Argentine accent when speaking Spanish and English.
The 64-year-old jazz pianist, who achieved rapid fame in the early 1990s, has been a part of special duets throughout his masterful career. His collaborators include none other than French pianist Richard Clayderman and a long list of Mexican singers comprised of Juan Gabriel, Alejandro Fernández, Marco Antonio Solís, José José, Armando Manzanero and Mariachi Vargas de Tecalitlán, among others. In addition, di Blasio has worked with Spaniards Julio Iglesias and Rocío Dúrcal, as well as Michael Bolton and José Feliciano.
Surprising to some, di Blasio paid tribute to Mexican music legend singer-songwriter Juan Gabriel, who is ill with a pneumonia that led to him canceling several shows in the United States. He performed two of Juan Gabriel’s greatest songs, “Amor Eterno” and “Hasta Que Te Conocí.”
“Amor Eterno,” which Gabriel wrote and dedicate specially to his deceased mother, conjured nostalgia for all those present. Di Blasio took notice of their passionate reaction with a brief story of when he had asked for Gabriel’s blessing and permission to record “Hasta Que Te Conocí,” but Gabriel suggested “Amor Eterno.”
While performing “Hasta Que Te Conocí,” di Blasio stood in front of his piano and sporadically duplicated Gabriel’s renowned dance move of a 360-degree body turn while playing. It was passionate and musically enriching to experience.
Midpoint during the piano showcase, di Blasio played “Barroco” and “Melissa,” two songs that truly elevated his status as an artist.
“These two opened the doors to the world for me,” he proudly uttered to those in attendance.
“Barroco” was a soothing piece, while “Melissa” a precious and peaceful tune. The venue gracefully applauded each.
Di Blasio also pleased his followers when a lady loudly requested Carlos Gardel’s “El Día Que Me Quieras” before carrying out “Penelope,” which featured a prominent percussion sound, and the upbeat “Mediterraneo” (lots of dancing on this one). And, “Luna de Paris” turned out to be a favorite.
When time for his encore, “Corazón de Niño,” arrived, it was played to perfection. The track, which di Blassio composed for his son Stefano (one of the band’s bass players), was a musical wonder and beautiful to hear on the piano. He couldn’t have capped the night any better.