It was another sign of the sophisticated tastes of Montgomery County theatergoers. “The Four Freshman” sold out the Crighton Theatre far in advance of last week’s totally delicious performance. No one who bought a ticket was disappointed. Arranged by the Montgomery County Performing Arts Society, the concert was pure gold from beginning to end. The famed group originated in 1948 and has continued to evolve to the present incarnation. I can echo the publicity claim that “The new group not only preserves The Four Freshman sound. They enhance it with their youth, vitality and talent…”
Ranging in age from 24 to 31, the artists in question live up to those claims big-time! All were excellent vocalists, while Brian Eichenberger sang lead and played both bass and guitar. Vince Johnson added smooth trombone and also showed skill on bass and guitar. Bob Ferreira covered percussion beautifully with drums that never overwhelmed the smooth harmonies. Curtis Calderon brought great trumpet work to the equation; and while the instrumental work was superb, the vocal harmonies were on an even higher plane.
There was a delightfully jazzy “Night and Day,” followed by a “You Stepped Out of A Dream” with perhaps the smoothest harmonies to hit the Crighton stage since the memorable Ink Spots visit last year. Ferreira’s subtle percussion enhanced a dreamy “Come Into My Heart.” “Young and Foolish” brought more great jazz with stellar trumpet work from Calderon. There were wonderful a cappella moments in the bluesy masterpiece, “When Your Lover Has Gone.” The Crighton’s acoustics and rosy stage lighting were perfect, and the performers had high praise for the beautifully restored theater.
There was a lighthearted change of pace with an “If I Only Had A Brain” that featured some of the best whistling since Bing Crosby. The group’s rendition of “Rain” was a warm and comfortable embrace. “Indian Summer” never sounded mellower with its fine vocal solo from drummer, Ferreira. I began to realize I was in the awkward position of being a critic with nothing to complain about. As the song ended, the room was in a kind of suspended animation. I remember experiencing that once in Canada years ago after a Mel Torme / George Shearing performance of “A Nightingale Sang in Barclay Square.”
The guys continued with an “I Remember You” that was another rich and gentle classic. “I Concentrate on You” was sooooo relaxing! “Walkin’ My Baby Back Home” was a light, bouncy, and delicious confection. “I Call It Love,” and “Every Time We Say Goodbye” brought Act One to a smooth conclusion.
After intermission there was a jazzy trip on “Route 66,” and the magic spell of “It Could Happen to You.” The quick tempo of “I’m Gonna Go Fishin’” was followed by an audience favorite, “In This Whole Wide World.” The audience roared with laughter when told they would hear a song that preceded the age of cloning: “There Will Never Be Another You!” There was a rhythmic “My One And Only Love,” while “Somebody Loves Me” was full of energy, creative harmonies and a dazzling trumpet solo from Calderon.
Closing numbers featured the Freshman classics, “Day By Day” (with wonderful trombone from Johnson), “Poinciana,” “Graduation Day,” “After You’ve Gone,” and then the group’s first hit, “It’s A Blue World.” In the end, perhaps the boys cheated a bit by perfectly harmonizing “The Star Spangled Banner” to bring the audience to its feet. It wouldn’t have mattered though. A standing ovation was very much in order.
(The Courier 11.17.02)