RAMSEY, N.J. – Ask Greg Caldarone of North Haledon why he tailors and he’ll say it’s the family business.
Ask him why he sings and he sums it up with one word: passion.
“I learned tailoring,” Caldarone said, “because you have to have something to get you through the lean times that music brings you.”
Yet he is quick to point out that both his livelihoods are arts.
Many people know Caldarone as the romantic baritone who enchants audiences year after year at Ridgewood’s Kasschau Memorial Bandshell . He performs, too, at many other venues, including New York City cabarets, clubs, and churches in the tri-state area.
Others know Caldarone, a Waldwick native, from the Ramsey tailoring shop, Nino Caldarone Custom Tailoring , started by his father. But even his tailoring customers, drawn to the quality of his work and his affable personality, buy his CDs for sale at the front desk.
There are four now: “Come Back To Sorrento,” “The Nearness Of You,” “Should’ve Never Let You Go,” and “Have a Blessed Christmas,” as well as EP recordings he did with Lou Pallo, leader of the Les Paul Trio.
“Sorrento,” the first one, was released in 1996 at the suggestion of Bucky Pizzarelli, a long-time client at Nino’s shop. The jazz icon performed on the album as did his son, John Pizzarelli, bassist Jerry Bruno, and guitarist Lou Pallo.
The result catapulted Caldarone’s career.
He went on to perform at such places as The Continental Airlines Arena, Trump’s World Fair Casino, and other venues in Las Vegas, Florida, and Massachusetts.
To this day, Caldarone, now 50, remains devoted to singing popular standards by the likes of Johnny Mercer, Cole Porter, and the Gershwins.
“You don’t ever want the songs that defined the 20th century to be lost,” he said. “They don’t craft songs today in the same way they don’t craft furniture like they did then.”
He doesn’t much care for new trends, such as artists lip-syncing on stage or studios auto-tuning recorded music.
Highlights of Caldarone’s career include performing with Les Paul at the Iridium and getting the Dakota Staton award from the Universal Jazz Coalition.
But those were just two extraordinary moments in a life Caldarone loves every day. To him, every song, like every stitch, is special.