By the early 1960s, Frank Sinatra and Count Basie had already cemented their respective reputations as two of the most versatile and enduring entertainers of the 20th century. When these two titans united in the studio for recordings on Reprise — Sinatra’s own label, which he’d launched at the start of the decade — the results were historic. The first album was simply titled Sinatra-Basie: An Historical Musical First, a 1963 release that climbed to the top five on Billboard’s pop album charts over the course of a 42-week run. A year later, It Might As Well Be Swing rose to #13 during a 31-week stretch on the same charts.
On September 6, 2011, Concord Records will reissue both of these recordings in a single collection, Frank Sinatra & Count Basie: The Complete Reprise Studio Recordings. Under license from Frank Sinatra Enterprises (FSE), the 20-song compilation is enhanced via digital restoration and remastering, and includes brand new liner notes from music journalist and historian Bill Dahl that provide historical context for these pivotal recordings. Also included are original anecdotes from Quincy Jones, who produced It Might As Well Be Swing.
“It’s virtually impossible to imagine a more swinging combination than Frank Sinatra — the premier pop vocalist of an adoring generation — and the mighty orchestra of Count Basie,” says Dahl in his liner notes. “Such a scintillating summit meeting actually unfolded not once but twice in the studio. This collection brings together both of these historic album-length collaborations, first out on the label Sinatra founded, Reprise. It’s a thoroughly satisfying soiree.”
Dahl provides background information about the history of Basie’s orchestra in the decades leading up to the two recordings. He also discusses Sinatra’s transition from Capitol to Reprise and the artistic freedom that came with it, as well as Neal Hefti’s arrangements for both albums, Quincy Jones’ production of the latter, and brief annotations of every song in the collection.