|POP REVIEW; Sinatra, Gangsta Rap And 'Mack the Knife'
By STEPHEN HOLDEN
Published: 05 - 30 - 2003 , Late Edition - Final , Section E , Column 5 , Page 24
Michael Bublé, a 27-year-old Canadian singer in the Sinatra mold. makes sure his audiences know he's not wandering around in a nostalgic time warp, pretending that rock and hip-hop never happened. Mr. Bublé, who is appearing through Sunday at the Blue Note (131 West Third Street, Greenwich Village) with an eight-member swing band, spices his act with a fragment of gangsta rap that he delivers with a hard rat-a-tat edge and a humorously defiant attitude. Along with time-honored standards like ''The Way You Look Tonight,'' '''You'll Never Know'' and ''All of Me,'' his program includes hits by George Michael (''Kissing a Fool''), Van Morrison (''Moondance'') and Queen (''Crazy Little Thing Called Love'').
The ease with which the singer blithely skips through genres and blurs them without strain recalls the chameleon sensibility of Bobby Darin, whom Mr. Bublé cited on Wednesday as his favorite singer and greatest influence. At various phases of his career, Darin presented himself as a teen idol, a junior Sinatra and a vocal stylistic disciple of Ray Charles and Tim Hardin. A high point of Mr. Bublé's show is his cocky, Darin-influenced version of ''Mack the Knife.''
But Mr. Bublé is less of an overt parodist than his idol. If his style is an offshoot of the Sinatra mode of lounge singing (with similarly generic band arrangements), his voice is strong and confident, his phrasing innately rhythmic. At this point Mr. Bublé's ballad singing, though somewhat impersonal, is impressive in its fullness, tonal security and ability to sustain long notes. Most important, Mr. Bublé drips with a star quality that suggests a less ferocious version of the charisma exuded by the young Harry Connick Jr. during his rush to stardom. Playful, charming and a good storyteller, he commanded the stage on Wednesday like a natural entertainer.