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Bob Anderson
Vocal impressionist Bob Anderson will perform on New Year's Eve.

Jerry Floor, one of the co-founders of the Jazz Arts of the Mountain West, said he wanted to bring back the classy, big-band sound to New Year's Eve.

"We've seen a decline in this particular musical offering, especially when it comes to events like New Year's Eve," said Floor during an interview. "So this concert is to recapture the past."

So the 50-piece Salt Lake City Jazz Orchestra, along with Las Vegas Hall of Fame vocal impressionist Bob Anderson and conductor Vincent Falcone (who was Frank Sinatra's music director), will perform two concerts New Year's Eve at the Rose Wagner Performing Arts Center.

But instead of having the cut-and-dried performances, the night will be filled with continuous music after the concerts are over.

"Between and after the performances, there will still be music to enjoy," said Floor. "In the Rose Wagner Black Box Theatre, which we will rename as the Cabaret Room, a band called the Sensations will perform in a party-like atmosphere. And on the Jennae Wagner stage, the big band will play, but the audience can come up and dance as well."

In addition to the music, there will be an array of finger food, free soft drinks for ticket-holders and a cash bar, Floor said.

"It will be a party until 11:15 p.m."

As far as the performers go, Floor met Falcone through a mutual friend seven years ago.

"We kept in contact over the years, and we brought him and Bob to the Salt Lake City International Jazz Festival this past summer," said Floor. "It was a success. It made an impression on them, and in August, Bobby called me up and said, 'Jerry, the audience was great. We loved it and want to do it again. Have you thought about doing a New Year's Eve concert?"'

"To tell you the truth, I hadn't," Floor said. "So I told him I'd get back to him. And I did a couple of days later and said, 'You know, we do need a fund-raiser for the jazz festival. So why don't we do it?'

"Both Vinnie and Bobbie liked the idea, and that's how it all started."

Anderson, who knew Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr., Dean Martin and more, said he loved playing the Jazz Festival in the summer.

"The audience reaction was incredible," he said. "I had more people and kids coming up to me and telling me how much they enjoyed the show."

Anderson started in the music business because of an argument between the Everly Brothers and Nancy Sinatra.

"It was back in 1973, and I had just gotten out of the Army after serving in Vietnam," said Anderson during a phone call from his home in Las Vegas. "I had driven for three days from Michigan. I looked like a hippie — long hair, kind of grubby and a peace-symbol for a belt buckle. Anyway, I was heading to Los Angeles but made a stop in Vegas. I went to the Sahara Hotel and walked into the showroom.

"Now, let me tell you that I had no intention of getting into show business. I was just doing some traveling. Anyway, Nancy was there and she was arguing with the Everly Brothers. They were supposed to go on in three hours, but the brothers walked out.

"Nancy began calling singers and no one could do the gig. I was watching this whole thing and, for some reason, walked up to the stage and said, 'I can sing."'

"The band members laughed a bit, but Sinatra's band leader at the time, Billy Strange, told her to give me a mike.

"I sang and did some duets with her and was hired on the spot," said Anderson. "And that's how I got into the business."

From that day on, Anderson performed with Sinatra and was introduced to a legendary list of performers, all of whom became his friends.

"I did a late-night show right after Louis Prima at (one of Vegas' hot spots called) the Top of the Dunes," said Anderson. "In the audience was Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr., Tony Bennett, Liberace. In fact, Dean was sitting in a chair and resting his foot on the stage.

"I was handed a mike and told, 'You're on.' And I went out. Apparently they liked the show and I got to know all of them as my friends."

One of the highlights of Anderson's career was putting together his "Frank Sinatra & Friends" show.

"I do musical impressions, but there is no caricatures in the act," he said. "I don't just do 15-second snips either. I pay tribute to my friends, all of whom I have known personally.

"When I started working with Vinnie (Falcone), who had been Frank Sinatra's musical director for nearly 12 years, I was given the chance to work from Frank's actual scores, written by Nelson Riddle.

"It was a little intimidating in the fact that I have a strong respect for this music. And felt I had a responsibility to make sure the songs are performed the way Frank Sinatra would do them. I'm looking forward to coming back to Salt Lake to do it again."

If you go ...

What: Bob Anderson, Vincent Falcone, Salt Lake City Jazz Orchestra fund-raiser

Where: Rose Wagner Performing Arts Center, 138 W. 300 South

When: Monday, 7:30 and 9:30 p.m.

How much: $90 for first show; $99 for second show

Phone: 355-2787, 888-451-2787

Web: www.arttix.org or www.jamnational.org

E-mail: [email protected]