“Duets with My American Idols” is Oleg Frish’s fourth album as a recording artist, and is a culmination of two years of recording with an all-star cast of noted rock n’ roll and pop artists that Oleg convinced to record duets with him on some of his most cherished American songbook classics including; the late Ben E. King, B.J. Thomas, Lainie Kazan, Bobby Rydell, Chris Montez, Peggy March, Lou Christie, Tony Orlando, Gary U.S. Bonds and Melissa Melissa Manchester. The album also features several solo tracks performed by Oleg and a special introduction by the legendary Connie Francis.
If I’m right, the first question that came to your mind is – “Who is Oleg Frish?” I know, because it’s the first question that came to my mind after seeing the album’s line-up; just who on earth is capable of getting together so many legends together on one recording…and then sing duets with them! Well Sinatra did it, and so did Tony Bennett, but we all know the magnitude of those two fellas. This led me to believe that Oleg Frish is obviously held in very high regard within the industry. And not without reason, may I add, after listening to the performances.
But before I listened to the music I found out that Oleg is the first Russian born radio and television broadcast journalist to host and produce his own entertainment and music programs in the United States. He currently hosts a show on TVi (Russian Television International) an international Russian-language privately owned television network with studios based in New York, Tel-Aviv, Berlin and Riga, reaching a global audience of more than 50 million viewers.
Apart from speaking 6 languages, apparently Oleg is also a musical historian and an avid collector of archival music memorabilia (albums, books, post cards). The first American song he remembers hearing was “Hello Dolly” by Brenda Lee at age four, and by his early teens he could recall by memory lyrics, arrangements, composers and artist of over 15,000 songs. With this impressive preamble, the next question dawned on me, “Just how does Oleg match up with his illustrious singing partners?”
A truly successful duet requires two things: enough match of musical ability to keep the lesser talent from ‘falling behind’, and a connection between the singers such that they can both complement and meld their styles during a song. Gladly, those magic moments are largely present here. It’s obvious from the opening bar of “You’re Nobody Till Somebody Loves You” that Gary U.S. Bonds and Oleg Frish are on the same wavelength. The two fill the room with a romantic, swoony atmosphere.
Oleg Frish and Ben E. King do a splendid job performing the jazzy “Day By Day”, and listen for yet another gem in “The Way You Look Tonight” as done by Oleg and Peggy March. “Sunny” teams Oleg with B.J. Thomas and they do this to perfection–and beyond! “What A Difference A Day Makes” has the great Chris Montez singing beautifully along in Spanish with Oleg; and listen for Lainie Kazan to outdo even herself when she sings “Hello, Dolly!” with Oleg. Excellent.
“On The Sunny Side Of The Street” gets the royal treatment from Oleg Frish and Tony Orlando; they are both singing at their very best and it’s all exquisite. “A Fine Romance” couldn’t have been done any better than the way Oleg and Melissa Manchester perform it here; their excellent diction and sense of timing enhance this even more. Bobby Rydell and Oleg Frish do a great job on “Volare”; this is a highlight of the album as Bobby and Oleg infuse the song with so much heart, soul and swing. The also album ends strongly with Oleg Frish and Lou Christie doing “When You’re Smiling”. The album also features Oleg singing by himself, as is the case with the current single “The Things We Did Last Summer”.
Oleg Frish possesses incredible amounts of musical genius; and he certainly sings with the best of them here! It all leaves me wanting more. This is a must-have for Oleg Frish fans and people who have loved the artistry of his singing partners in the past. In addition, people who enjoy the American songbook classics will find much to enjoy and even treasure on “Duets with My American Idols”.