The Four Freshmen have endured in popularity through the decades, beginning in 1948, and will enjoy their 70th anniversary this fall. Today’s members include Bob Ferreira, bass voice on drums, 25 years with the Freshmen; Tommy Boynton, 1st tenor on electric bass, three years; Stein (pronounced STAIN) Malvey, 2nd tenor on guitar, five years; and Jon Gaines, 3rd part on trumpet and flugelhorn, the newest member at one year.
They launched the May 11 RSF Community Concerts event at the Village Church in RSF with the classic “Day In, Day Out,” their trademark lush harmonies capped with Tommy’s beautiful, “soaring” tenor voice. After Jon’s tasteful trumpet solo there was enthusiastic applause. Bob’s velvety bass was featured on “Give Me the Simple Life.” Gorgeous harmonies ensued on “You Stepped Out of a Dream.” Bob, once again, sang solo followed by Jon’s plunger mute solo. This song also had the first guitar solo by Stein. The transparent purity of Tommy’s tenor was featured on “It Could Happen to You.” Jon played a lovely flügelhorn solo.
The Four Freshmen showed off their magnificent a cappella (unaccompanied) harmonies at the end of this one. One of my favorite songs, “Laura” was performed a cappella - hauntingly beautiful. Tommy was featured on the 1955 classic, “Social Call.” They sang “Love Is Just Around the Corner” from the successful 1955 album, The Four Freshmen and 5 Trombones. This album reached #6 on the charts and stayed on the charts over eight months. From the same album they did a stunning version of “Angel Eyes” which featured Stein on a lovely guitar solo. Next, from The Four Freshmen and Live Trombones (2010 - available on their website, fourfreshmen.com), “It’s All Right with Me,” followed with the anti-love song, “Pick Up Your Tears” (And Go Home).
The Four Freshmen were huge fans of Stan Kenton and it was Stan Kenton who helped The Four Freshmen get signed with Capitol Records . They performed “There Will Never Be Another You” to pay tribute to that collaboration. The second half opened with all four members front stage with only two mics. Bob played brushes on a music stand accompanying them on “Ain’t Seen Nothin’ Like You.” This was a real treat, up close, it made their blend even smoother and richer. “Poinciana” triggered big applause, its exoticism was poignant. Next was the trad jazz classic, “Basin Street Blues” with Jon playing with a solo tone mute. Bob said they hadn’t performed “Basin Street…" for 65 years.
The 1956 hit “Graduation Day” was next. From the 2015 album Four Freshmen and Friends (also available on their website) was the scintillating “So Danco Samba,” where Bob played dual shakers. The crowd was loving the Latin, so they followed with Jobim’s immortal, “The Girl from Ipanema,” the last half of the song beautifully sung in Portuguese by Bob. The Four Freshmen were commissioned to arrange a song for the 100th birthday celebration of Frank Sinatra, so they swung mightily on “Come Fly with Me.” They closed with their 1952 first hit, “It’s a Blue World.” This garnered such a loud standing ovation, they added “In This Whole Wide World” as an encore. What a fabulous way to end a spectacular season!
You don’t want to miss the first concert of the 2018-19 Season, Alina Kiryayeva, Oct. 12. Community Concerts is the best party in town with great music, wine compliments of Northern Trust, and a catered selection of light cuisine from Whole Foods. Tickets and short video clips of Alina Kiryayeva plus each concert of the 2018-19 season are available on the website www.ccrsf.org. Tickets also available by mail: PO Box 2706, RSF 92067. Questions? Contact us at email@example.com.
— Dana Wheaton, is a Professor of Music at Orange Coast College.