sinatra

Frank Sinatra/Count Basie Reprise recordings coming from Concord

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.

“Another memorable collection between the Chairman and the Count would soon be recorded for posterity by Reprise, [with Jones] arranging and conducting 1966’s Sinatra at the Sands,” says Dahl. “But even performing for those hip high rollers in Vegas couldn’t top what Sinatra and Basie accomplished during these two studio collaborations. This was musical history in the making, as fabulously fresh and frisky now as it was back then. Let the swinging commence.”
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TRACK LIST
Pennies from Heaven
Please Be Kind
(Love Is) The Tender Trap
Looking at the World Thru Rose Colored Glasses
My Kind of Girl
I Only Have Eyes for You
Nice Work If You Can Get It
Learnin’ the Blues
I’m Gonna Sit Right Down and Write Myself a Letter
I Won’t Dance
Fly Me to the Moon (In Other Words)
I Wish You Love
I Believe in You
More [Theme from Mondo Cane]
I Can’t Stop Loving You
Hello, Dolly! (from Hello, Dolly!)
I Wanna Be Around
The Best Is Yet To Come
The Good Life
Wives and Lovers

Frank Sinatra's inaugural Reprise album reissued on Concord

Concord Records marks the 50th anniversary of a pivotal transition in Frank Sinatra’s career with a digitally remastered version of Ring-A-Ding Ding. Under license from Frank Sinatra Enterprises (FSE), the album is set for release on June 7, 2011.

By the end of the 1950s, Sinatra had spent nearly ten years on Capitol, where he’d made some outstanding recordings. But at the dawn of a new decade, he was eager to establish a creative environment of his own making — one that would open up new territory to explore and take him a step closer to realizing his unique creative vision.

The result was the establishment of Reprise, his own record label and his primary base of operations for the remainder of his career. His initial recording on the new label was Ring-A-Ding Ding, a 1961 album that not only captured Sinatra at the top of his game with a self-confident swagger, but — with the help of songwriters like Sammy Cahn and James Van Heusen, and arrangements by Johnny Mandel — also captured the optimistic tenor of the period.

In addition to the 12 songs from the original recording, the 50th anniversary reissue also features two bonus tracks — “Zing! Went The Strings of My Heart” and a previously unreleased version of “Have You Met Miss Jones?” The packaging also includes extensive new liner notes by Frank Sinatra Jr., who shares personal memories of his father during the founding of Reprise and the making of the album as well as annotations and insights for each track.

“As the new decade began, like Midas, everything Sinatra touched turned to gold,” says Frank Jr. “His movies were box office blockbusters, his records were gold, his concerts were standing room only, and with the help of his tireless efforts, he had been very instrumental in helping his friend John F. Kennedy become the 35th President of the United States. It was no wonder that for Frank Sinatra, the period of time in which he was living could only be referred to as ‘Ring-A-Ding Ding.’ The music in this premier Reprise recording reflected that state of mind in every note.”


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TRACK LIST
Ring-A-Ding Ding
Let’s Fall in Love
Be Careful, It’s My Heart
A Foggy Day
A Fine Romance
In The Still of the Night
The Coffee Song
When I Take My Sugar to Tea
Let’s Face the Music and Dance
You’d Be So Easy To Love
You and the Night and the Music
I’ve Got My Love To Keep Me Warm

BONUS TRACKS:
Zing! Went the Strings of My Heart

FRANK SINATRA: BEST OF VEGAS

In the span of a few years, Las Vegas refueled Frank Sinatra’s career and Sinatra in turn became the lead figure in the city’s ascendance. It was a synergistic relationship that has since become legendary in the annals of 20th century entertainment.

Some of the finest moments in that legendary symbiosis are captured in Frank Sinatra: Best of Vegas, a series of live recordings set for release on Concord Records on February 15, 2011. The 14-song set, under license from Frank Sinatra Enterprises (FSE), captures Sinatra in concert at the Sands, Caesars Palace and the Golden Nugget in Las Vegas between 1961 and 1987. The collection is a distillation of highlights from Sinatra: Vegas, the five-disc boxed set (4 CD/1 DVD) of live recordings released by Reprise Records in 2006.

“From his debut at the Desert Inn in September 1951, no entertainer was ever more synonymous with the city of Las Vegas than Frank Sinatra,” says Charles Pignone, author of The Sinatra Treasures, in his comprehensive liner notes to the Best of Vegas CD. “It has been said that next to legalized gambling, nothing has been more beneficial and profitable to Las Vegas than Frank Sinatra.”

All the Sinatra classics are here, performed live before adoring crowds at some of the most prestigious venues in the history of Vegas. “The Lady Is a Tramp” (The Sands, 1961); “I’ve Got You Under My Skin” (The Sands, 1966); “All or Nothing at All” (Caesars Palace, 1982); “Pennies From Heaven” (The Golden Nugget, 1987); and of course, the “Theme From New York, New York” (Caesars Palace, 1982) are just some of the gems in the Best of Vegas collection.

“If you were in Las Vegas at the same time as Sinatra, there was nothing else that could compare,” says Pignone. “Even when the entertainment in town was changing from headliners to magic and production shows, Sinatra was still the ‘main event.’”

Or in the words of Las Vegas Mayor Oscar B. Goodman, Sinatra was “the destination’s most enduring icon, an inimitable original who was influential in shaping Las Vegas’ image and entertainment scene.”

Sinatra returned to Vegas in December with the opening of Sinatra Dance With Me, at the Wynn Las Vegas. Conceived, choreographed and directed by Twyla Tharp, Sinatra Dance With Me features original recorded masters of Frank Sinatra with a big band and 14 of the world’s finest dancers.


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TRACK LIST
Introduction
The One I Love Belongs to Somebody Else
Moonlight in Vermont
The Lady Is a Tramp
I’ve Got You Under My Skin
Street Of Dreams
Fly Me to the Moon (In Other Words)
Monologue
Luck Be a Lady
I Can’t Get Started
Without a Song
All or Nothing at All
Witchcraft
Pennies From Heaven
Angel Eyes
Theme From New York, New York
Bows

Marty Nelson of the original Manhattan Transfer Returns to Performing

It has been more than thirty years since Marty Nelson has performed live.  He returned to the stage last month at Chico’s House of Jazz in Asbury Park, NJ.  His show “A Tribute to Sinatra, plus . . .?” is true to its name. Marty uses his favorite Sinatra hits as the core of his show, but adds many personal touches.

Marty explains how he started as a teenager with the original Manhattan Transfer (Capitol Records) and then went on to produce for Lifesong Records, and eventually became a New York City freelance studio singer.  He performed and recorded with artists that ranged from Frank Sinatra to The Village People to Leonard Bernstein.  He also sang on more than 1,000 national radio and TV commercials – and this is where the “plus . . .” of his show’s title comes into play. Marty was often asked to do solos on commercials that called for a Sinatra “sound,” and he not only gives the audience tasteful renditions of many classic pop/jazz songs, but he also sings some of his better known commercials.  (The audience really enjoyed hearing these memorable jingles.)

As the show develops, Marty reveals more of his creative side with original arrangements of “Black Magic” (based on the Billy Daniels hit) and a version of Minnie the Moocher that features an extended vocal scat where he takes the audience on an improvisational journey, touching on classic rock hits from the Beatles to Bruce Springsteen and more.  He peppers the show with stories about his experiences in the music business and even does an interactive segment with the audience where he brings a person onstage and does an impromptu scat lesson.

His energy is infectious and his intimate soulful ballad renditions draw you in (especially a marvelous version of “Send in the Clowns” where Marty performs it almost entirely with only stand-up Bass accompaniment).

If you are looking for a Sinatra sound-alike lounge review, you won’t get it here.  But if you want an evening of great music with a touch of fun, you’ll really enjoy Marty Nelson’s show.

Frank Sinatra/Antonio Carlos Jobim reissue coming on Concord

In 1967, Frank Sinatra teamed up with Brazilian singer, pianist, guitarist, composer and songwriter Antonio Carlos Jobim to record an album that married the Chairman’s signature vocals with rhythms from the master of bossa nova. The resulting album, Francis Albert Sinatra/Antonio Carlos Jobim, reached #19, remaining on Billboard’s rock-dominated album chart for 28 weeks.

Forty-four years later, on May 4, 2010, Concord Music Group, on license from Frank Sinatra Enterprises (FSE), will release a deluxe reissue of the Sinatra/Jobim classic including all ten songs from the original album plus seven songs from a subsequent collaboration between the two, and three songs from that session that were not released until decades later, when they were included in a box set. Sinatra/Jobim: The Complete Reprise Recordings features digital remastering and expanded liner notes by Stan Cornyn, longtime head of creative services at Warner/Reprise and author of the book about the Warner Music Group, Exploding.

Sinatra and Jobim gathered at Hollywood’s Western Recorders for three nights, January 30 through February 1, 1967. Jobim brought the beat in the form of bossa nova percussionists and arrangers. Sinatra supplied the producer (Sonny Burke), the string arranger/conductor (Claus Ogerman) and the rest of the orchestra. The resulting session produced ten songs including the classic “The Girl From Impanema” plus “Dindi,” “How Insensitive [Insensatez],” “Quiet Nights of Quiet Stars” and six others. (After bidding até a vista to Jobim, Sinatra, on the high of making one of his finest albums ever, stayed at the studio to record a duet with daughter Nancy that would reach #1 on the charts, “Something Stupid.”)

Two years later, Sinatra and Jobim returned to Western Recorders to record ten more bossa novas for a shorter-titled follow-up: Sinatra-Jobim. Replacing Ogerman was a 26-year-old long-haired arranger named Eumir Deodato (later to be known for his 1973 jazz version of Richard Strauss’ “Also Sprach Zarathustra [2001]”). The songs were all written or co-written by Jobim, many with unusual melodic twists.  Producer Burke enlisted conductor Morris Stoloff to ensure a pop feel to the session.

After three nights, the album was wrapped, and was readied for release in the fall of 1969. The eight-track version of the album had shipped when the call was placed to Warner/Reprise’s Burbank, Calif. offices. It was Sinatra, demanding that the label “kill the album,” so Warner recalled most of the recordings. A 2005 Goldmine story reported that the rare eight-track would command $5000.

Sinatra later agreed to permit Reprise to release seven of the Sinatra-Jobim vocal tracks on the album Sinatra & Company. It reached #73 and remained on the album chart for 15 weeks in 1971.

More than 40 years later, the airport in Rio has been named Antonio Carlos Jobim International. And an American postage stamp honored Frank Sinatra. And the Francis Albert Sinatra & Antonio Carlos Jobim and Sinatra-Jobim albums have been combined to form Concord’s Sinatra/Jobim: The Complete Reprise Recordings set.