weather icon Partly Cloudy

Frankie Moreno’s next adventure: 100 new songs in nine shows

Updated January 7, 2018 - 9:37 pm

Frankie Moreno used to perform a little sleight-of-singing in his Las Vegas lounge shows. Performing at such venues as La Scala at The Venetian or Rush Lounge at Golden Nugget, the veteran Vegas showman was charged with covering radio hits of the time or classic-rock favorites.

Once in a while, he’d slip in an original song he’d just written, announcing, “This is the latest from Maroon 5!” or, “If you haven’t heard the new hit by Matchbox Twenty, here it is!”

Moreno has long graduated from those days and fuses his live shows with a blend of covers and originals. In his 100-show run at Myron’s Cabaret Jazz at the Smith Center, he’s performed fully realized theme nights, centered on the music of such superstars as Ray Charles, Elvis Presley, The Beatles, Frank Sinatra, Jerry Lee Lewis and the like.

Nights have been dedicated to country hits, Motown, even a full orchestra summoned for an evening with Mozart.

Moreno has been struck by new inspiration for his upcoming nine-show series at Cab Jazz, a twice-monthly run that begins at 8 p.m. Tuesday: A new set of original songs for every show.

This concept calls for about a dozen heretofore-never-performed numbers, all written by Moreno and his bassist brother and chief collaborator, Tony Moreno, for every Cab Jazz show. That’s about 100 new songs, a career catalog for many singer-songwriters. It’s also an artistic adventure — writing entirely new material specifically for every show in an extended engagement.

“We just did everything we could think of for The Smith Center, and Tony and I are always thinking of new songs, new ideas, and this came up a few weeks ago,” Moreno said. “I’m going back to how Mozart was asked to write music specifically for a little dinner party, and he’d get a string quartet together with the idea that it would be played just that night.

“I’m not Mozart, obviously, but I am a huge fan of him and that idea seemed like a something we could dig into.”

Working with his brother, Moreno has banked 18 songs already, writing daily through the holidays. His imaginative fecundity is well-known; Moreno has been known to write four songs in a day without the quality of his work flagging. Fan favorites “Tangerine Honey,” “Moonlight Matinee,” “Some Kind of Love,” and “Diva” were assembled in hours. “Cry Baby,” a staple from his days at the Stratosphere Showroom, was conceived and finished in a single afternoon in Paris.

In all, Moreno has had 1,500 compositions published, either on his own or by other artists, many from his days as a contracted songwriter in Nashville, Tennessee. Moreno estimates he’s finished more than 3,000 songs.

“The problem, for me, is just finding the time to sit down and write,” Moreno said. “But we went through the whole first run at Smith Center with learning to memorize all of those songs without using charts onstage. It was always learn, learn, learn, and they are getting into it. We’re used to the process now.”

Moreno stopped and said, “But yeah, it’s a lot, no question.”

Moreno is particularly eager to play songs no one has heard of, in any genre. One, “The Good Stuff,” is “kind of a Bonnie Raitt vibe, a little funky,” as he says. “Burnout the Flame” harks back to Ray Charles. Moreno is recording each show, and with the possibility of issuing a “Best of Cab Jazz” album/CD/download by the end of this run.

Cab Jazz is not Moreno’s only venue. Aside from performing-arts center shows later this year, he is also returning at 8 p.m. Thursday to South Point Showroom. His occasional, brisk-selling appearances have evolved into a weekly residency at Michael Gaughan’s locals-friendly resort.

Those South Point shows, remarkable for their advanced video projection and the showroom’s open dance floor, might be Moreno’s most entertaining, all-around stage production yet.

But for pure composition ambition, the Cab Jazz concept is unmatched.

“The idea is to learn and grow,” Moreno said. “That’s the beauty of music.”

John Katsilometes’ column runs daily in the A section. Contact him at jkatsilometes@reviewjournal.com. Follow @johnnykats on Twitter, @JohnnyKats1 on Instagram.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
Entertainment Videos
What it's like to skip the lines and fly by helicopter to EDC
What it's like to skip the lines and fly by helicopter to EDC. (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas Smith & Wollensky opens at The Venetian
After 18 years, the Smith & Wollensky location on Las Vegas’ south Strip closed in 2017, to be re-born two years later with a rib-cutting — instead of a ribbon-cutting — in The Grand Canal Shoppes at The Venetian. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Review-Journal)
Colin Cantwell, Creator Of Iconic Star Wars Ships Visits Vegas
Colin Cantwell, who created and designed such "Star Wars" ships as the X-Wing fighter, and Death Star, met fans at Rogue Toys in Las Vegas today. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Beauty & Essex in Las Vegas makes an EDC Wonder Wheel
In honor of the Electric Daisy Carnival, Beauty & Essex at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas makes its Wonder Wheel party-worthy. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Giada talks Vegas Uncork’d
Giada De Laurentiis talks during Aperitivo Hour, a Vegas Uncork'd event, at her Caesars Palace restaurant, Pronto, May 10, 2019. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Scenes from Vegas Uncork’d 2019 on the Las Vegas Strip
The 13th edition of Vegas Uncork’d by Bon Appetit brought four days of food, wine, celebrity chefs and parties to town, May 9-12. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Three ingredients Gordon Ramsay can’t live without
Bon Appetit's Andy Baraghani interviews the "Hell's Kitchen" chef during a Vegas Uncork'd event at Caesars Palace, May 11, 2019. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Vegas Uncork’d launches wiith bubbles and a blade
Dozens of chefs representing some of the Strip’s top restaurants gathered Thursday at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas to launch the 2019 edition of Vegas Uncork’d by Bon Appetit. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Bunky the Clown at the clown convention
Bob "Bunky the Clown" Gretton talks about his life as a clown and the Clown Convention which was in Las Vegas at Texas Station this week. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Frying soft-shell crab at Lola’s in Las Vegas
At Lola’s: A Louisiana Kitchen in Las Vegas, soft-shell crab is breaded and fried and served either as an appetizer, po’boy or platter. Heidi Knapp Rinella/Review-Journal
The Stove in Henderson makes Pecan Pie Pancakes
At The Stove in Henderson, chef/partner Antonio Nunez stacks buttermilk pancakes with pecans and dulce de leche and tops them pie crust crumbs. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Vinnie Paul remembered at Count's Vamp'd
The late rocker's favorite table at one of his favorite clubs in Las Vegas. (Jason Bracelin/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
4DX movie experience at Red Rock
4DX movie experience during a demo reel at Red Rock. (Christopher Lawrence/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
What To Do On May The 4th
There are plenty of events going on May the 4th this year around Las Vegas. Celebrate Star Wars and Comic Book Day all at once. The Rogue Toys, the 501st, Rebel Legion and Millennium Fandom Bar are all hosting fun events to help celebrate your geek-dom. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Las Vegas Water Sports Introduces New Attraction At Lake Las Vegas
Las Vegas Water Sports will debut its new aqua park attraction at Lake Las Vegas Days this weekend. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Making the Space Invader at Greene St. Kitchen in Las Vegas
Lysa Huerta, pastry cook at Greene St. Kitchen at the Palms in Las Vegas, starts with angel food cake, Fruity Pebbles ice cream and strawberry sorbet to create a space creature engulfed in flashing lights and swirling mists. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas Pools
The M, Park MGM and NoMad are just a few great pools in Las Vegas. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Jose Andres explains Iberico pork
(Al Mancini/Las Vega Review-Journal)
Inside Life is Beautiful
Craig Asher Nyman explains how Life is Beautiful festival is booked and talks about this year's line-up. (Jason Bracelin/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Tattoo'd America Pops Up In Vegas
Tattoo'd America, a new pop-up attraction on the Linq Promenade, had their grand opening Friday. The attraction is dedicate to the culture of tattoos. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Jose Andres gets key to the Strip
Chef Jose Andres was presented with a Key to the Las Vegas Strip and a proclamation declaring April 26 Jose Andres Day in Clark County by County Commissioner Tick Segerblom on Friday. The ceremony took place at his restaurant Bazaar Meat in the SLS Las Vegas. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Sadelle’s in Las Vegas makes a grilled cheese with an inverted bagel
Michael Vargas, executive sous chef at Sadelle’s at Bellagio in Las Vegas, inverts an everything bagel and grills it with Swiss, cheddar and Muenster cheeses to make the Inverted Bagel Grilled Cheese. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Learn how to make China Poblano's Salt Air Margarita
Learn how to make China Poblano's Salt Air Margarita (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Tattoo'd America invites you to have fun and take pictures
Kassandra Lopez at Tattoo'd America invites you to have fun and take pictures. (Janna Karel/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Prime rib is carved tableside at Lawry’s The Prime Rib in Las Vegas
Dave Simmons, executive chef of Lawry’s The Prime in Las Vegas, which plans special cuts for National Prime Rib Day, demonstrates the restaurant’s service from rolling tableside carving carts. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Making gluten-free pizza at Good Pie in Las Vegas
Good Pie owner/pizzaiola Vincent Rotolo makes his gluten-free pizza.
Rockabilly fans enjoy Las Vegas weather poolside
Viva Las Vegas Rockabilly Weekender runs Thursday, April 18th through Sunday, April 21st with a huge car show on Saturday featuring The Reverend Horton Heat, The Delta Bombers and The Coasters. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Brownie sundae at VegeNation in Las Vegas is completely vegan
Donald Lemperle, chef/owner of VegeNation in Las Vegas and nearby Henderson, NV, makes his sundae with ice cream made with coconut and almond milks, a brownie made with coconut flour and oil and organic sugar and cacao, and fresh fruit. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Taste of the Town: Henderson Booze District
Those who like to support local businesses and sample local products will find the best concentration in an unlikely spot: a Henderson industrial park.
Founder of Las Vegas theater talks about a favorite play
Ann Marie Pereth, founder of A Public Fit Theatre Company, speaks to the Review-Journal about which play she would see every day if only given one option. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Celine Dion’s lounge gig a boon to Las Vegas act

Celine Dion performed “Because You Loved Me,” “Ashes,” Beauty and the Beast” and “My Heart Will Go On.” Her arrival drew a roar from the 300 VIPs in attendance, who were not informed of the night’s entertainment.