Broadway World

Virtuoso pianist Tom Ameen made his E-Spot Lounge debut at Vitello's Friday August 14 with a joyously entertaining show highlighting Disney music from TV, film and the Disney theme parks. It was a smash. Ameen is no stranger, though, to Vitello's, as he plays downstairs at the bar very Monday and Tuesday. He has amassed quite a following there, and his fans had only to climb a short flight of stairs to hear him play...and sing. Though he claims he hasn't sung in 15 years, his sweet, gentle tones and clear, smooth delivery were a consistent delight to listen to.

Growing up in Ohio, Ameen fell in love with Disney films at an early age, and his passion for songwriting was directly influenced by the beauty of the Disney style. During the course of the evening he included a couple of his own compositions which sound amazingly like those upbeat, positive songs that make all our lives happier. "Secret Afternoon" on his album little miracles is but one example of the mirth and hope he exudes.

Highlights of the evening included: "Zip A Dee Doo Dah"; "When You Wish Upon a Star"; from Cinderella, "A Dream Is a Wish Your Heart Makes"; from Hercules, "Go the Distance"; my favorite from Tarzan, the gorgeous "You'll Be in My Heart", and from The Lion King, the affecting "Circle of Life". He sang along to "Circle", adding more meaning and personal feeling to the lyrics. He also lifted his voice to the lovely "Candle On the Water" from Pete's Dragon, but only played "Let's Go Fly a Kite" from Mary Poppins, which would have been even more uplifting and fulfilling had he sung the lyrics and directed us to join in with fervor...a tiny suggestion for his next gig. Just a note about all his selections, they started out with a familiarity and then there was an Ameen spin or two that transformed each into something extra special.

I was very taken with the beauty of the theme park music, most of which is unfamiliar to me. Examples are from the American Pavilion at Epcot, "Golden Dreams"; from Carousel of Progress at Disneyworld, "Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow" and from the Reflections of Earth show "Illuminations Music", full of the passionate Disney themes of unity and coming together. Ameen has recorded all of these and more on his three Disney CDs entitled Magical Momentsand Magical Moments 2. The theme park material is covered in Piano and Pixie Dust. All of these albums may be purchased from the store at http://tomameenmusic.com/

Ameen showed versatility and also performed a terrific Star Wars medley. In fact, he announced that his next album will be a compilation of Star Wars music. Like Disney, it had a tremendous effect on his musical tastes growing up. He called John Williams inspirational.

Don't miss the uber talent and consummate artistry of Tom Ameen at Vitello's bar on Mondays and Tuesdays. Judging by the magnificent ovation he received from the packed house Friday, he should return to the E-Spot Lounge in the near future, hopefully on a regular basis.

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A word or two about the fabulous food and friendly service at Vitello's. I had a scrumptious filet mignon that would melt in your mouth and my friend just raved about the linguini and clam dish. There's always a great appetizer of calamari and shrimp to look forward to, and of course, plenty of pasta and pizza dishes that are forever popular. The staff are friendly and willing to please.