Canadian jazz virtuoso Micah Barnes has transformed into a transcontinental tomcat with the release of his new single, When In Rome (I Do as the Romans Do) — premiering exclusively on Tinnitist.
“For the video, we got very lucky indeed,” says Barnes, who shot the clip in the song’s setting — Rome! “For three days I pretended I was Marcello Mastroianni in La Dolce Vita, sweltering in a suit as we shot in the warm Italian sunshine.
“When In Rome has a real ‘swingers anthem’ to it, so I decided to give it a sexy, breezy, bossa nova feel with strings for that ‘International playboy’ approach,” adds Barnes, who updated the ’60s-era Cy Coleman / Carolyn Leigh classic with his band — Michael Shand, Russ Boswell and Al Cross, assisted by Rob Pitch and Don Breithaupt. “I hope folks will find the results deliciously naughty! After all, When In Rome is essentially a very smart and sophisticated ‘cheating’ song.”
When In Rome is the second preview of Barnes’ March album Vegas Breeze, his followup to the acclaimed chart-topper New York Stories. Featuring songs penned or popularized by immortals like Sammy Davis Jr., Peggy Lee, Tony Bennett, Nat King Cole, Mel Torme and Lena Horne, Vegas Breeze transports listeners back to Sin City’s glamourous yesteryear of legendary showrooms and iconic entertainers.
“Finding the songs for Vegas Breeze has been a gas,” Barnes says. “It meant hours and hours of enjoyment, discovering lesser known material of the classic showroom era. It was an interesting time for songcraft in that most of the ‘hit parade’ was generated from Broadway and Hollywood. It’s not a generalization to say that meant a more sophisticated sense of lyric and melodic structure in that pre-rock ’n’ roll period.
“When In Rome was first recorded in 1964 by Ms. Peggy Lee, who had a real knack for finding witty and intelligent songs,” Barnes says, admitting “it’s the Barbra Streisand version — released the same year — that I was most familiar with from my family’s record collection at home.”
Home for Barnes has long been Toronto. Born in Vienna and raised in Canada, he cut his teeth in the cabarets and jazz clubs of the city while still a teenager, before joining a cappella vocal group The Nylons in 1989. A Juno Award nominee, Barnes has spent the years since building his solo career through extensive international touring, recording and coaching some of the industry’s most elite entertainers.