“My wife keeps reminding me that I am retired, but with voice lessons, recording sessions, and now a music video shoot in the works, it certainly doesn’t feel like it. Besides having a heck of a schedule, this music stuff is pretty fun.” —George A. Santino
Most working jazz musicians hold down a day job, usually in the software industry, to pay the bills. At night, it’s their time to play. George A. Santino did things in reverse. An aspiring singer and a natural on the stage, Santino shelved that dream to provide for his family.
He couldn’t have picked a better profession than Microsoft, where he first started out as an entry-level lab engineer. In 20 years, Santino worked his way up to become a partner — amazing, seeing as Microsoft only had barely 1,000 in its entire history — and retire, three months ago, with the kind of security most working jazz musicians could only dream of.
Originally from the Philly projects, surrounded by abject poverty and crime, Santino wanted better for himself. Despite the school of hard knocks, this singer, writer, and motivational speaker managed to pick himself up, dust himself off, and get back in the race, just like Frank Sinatra’s classic, “That’s Life.”
Not coincidentally, George A. Santino chose Sinatra as his inspiration for an upcoming album, “Come Fly With Me,” his calling card to the jazz standards world (“That’s Life” is the first cut, ready for download on iTunes). “Come Fly With Me” — scheduled for official release May 15 — features all Sinatra covers done in Santino’s earnest, warm, and heartfelt style, perhaps because this Seattle singer has lived out the sentiments of a lot of the songs.
The first single off Santino’s album — “That’s Life” — reached #52 on Amazon.com’s Swing Jazz list April 25, edging out Michael Bublé and his “How Can You Mend A Broken Heart?”
To accentuate the album’s release, Santino is already hard at work filming a music video this week for “Come Fly With Me,” the second single. He’s also writing his book of memoirs.
The whole album came about to give his mom a treat. One of his biggest fans, Santino’s mom would always request that her son perform some tunes whenever he’d visit for the holidays.
A goal of his for a long time, “I thought a CD would be a nice gift, but being the action-oriented guy that I am, I just couldn’t go into a sound booth and record a song,” Santino explained in his April 19th blog. “No I had to do it right and hire a real producer (with an H media), and once we started recording, we kept adding things. A sax would sound good here… a flute solo would be great on this song and soon, we had a CD that really sounds great. When I sang a couple of the songs at my retirement party, people said I’d buy that CD… retirement was over before the retirement party came to an end.”