I believe I was in college when I heard, for the first time, Jimmy Roselli sing. It was on the radio and I must say, I was most impressed. A short time later I heard him again singing “Buona Sera, Mrs. Campbell.” It would be a few years until I not only would hear him sing again, but would also meet him!
My wife Marion and I were dating when my father-in-law to be asked me if I would like to go to Carnegie Hall to see a good friend of his sing. “You probably do not know him, his name is Jimmy Roselli,” my future father-in-law added. He was shocked, I think, but pleased to hear I not only knew who his friend was but I also admired his music. This one event may have secured my place as the son-in-law to be! LOL
In all seriousness, I enjoyed the concert immensely. The Roselli sound was unmistakable, with that 40 piece orchestra behind him. The music and words were mostly Italian and it reminded me of so many facets of my youth. Jimmy sang songs that evening that made me think of both sets of my grandparents and my mother. First, the favorite song of my maternal grandfather was ‘A tazza ‘e café’ and that was one of the songs among the Roselli repertoire that evening. A few of the other melodies reminded me of Carlo Buti and Claudio Villa, who were favorites of my other grandparents. And then there was ‘Dicitencello Vuie’ or ‘Just Say I Love Her,’ which my mother would sing as a lullaby.
Yes, this was a most memorable evening and the beginning of a friendship Marion and I enjoyed with Jimmy. Indeed, he would sing at our wedding and his arranger, Peter Moore, who was from London, suggested a few restaurants for us to consider there, in France and Italy when we went on our honeymoon in Europe.
The reason I mention Jimmy Roselli is because I came across an anthology of his music which was made for me by my good friend Nick Lattari, who was a Philadelphia radio personality and a wonderful guy.
I miss Jimmy Roselli and his Neapolitan songs and it is unfortunate that there are too many of our heritage today who will never have enjoyed a live Roselli performance. I sincerely urge all Italian Tribune readers who may not know his music to go to his website and download some of his songs.