- CHARITY BENEFIT
Written By Joel Benjamin
There were so many other places I would rather have been than a Frank Sinatra, Jr. concert on July 16, 2012. My kneejerk concept of him, based on fading memories, was not exactly first rate. But, now I humbly apologize to Mr. Sinatra. This was a first rate, charming and totally professional evening of solid entertainment. Mr. Sinatra is a compleat professional, totally in command of his material, soft spoken, but sweetly charismatic. He put on a very generous program of standards, backed by an expert eight-piece jazz ensemble whose arrangements echoed those of Nelson Riddle, Count Basie and other masters.
As the title of the show implies, all the numbers were associated with Sinatra, Sr. After a rousing instrumental overture, Sinatra sauntered on with studied humility and went immediately into a country/western tinged “What a Way to Go” and autobiographical ruminations that kind of connected the songs. He spoke of his early career, gleefully proclaiming that “my recordings are at the Smithsonian between the Edsel and John McCain’s acceptance speech!”
He was pleasant in “Name It and It’s Yours,” a VanHeusen/Cahn rarity and quite moving in “She Believed In Me,” a bittersweet tale of lost love. Also touching were his renditions of “Please Be Kind” and “Summer Wind.”
A Dean Martin homage included “Here’s to the Losers,” “Angel Eyes,” “I Get a Kick Out of You” and a slightly naughty re-do of “The Lady Is a Tramp.” He didn’t really imitate Martin as much as honor his vocal style.
A fascinating bit of musical history about advances in recording technology—how longer capacity LP records required more songs per album—became a touching portrait of Nelson Riddle who was forced to arrange four last minute additional songs for a record, zipping off arrangements in a car en route to Sinatra, Sr.’s recording session.
Of course, Sinatra had to sing the later hits of his Dad. “Strangers In the Night” was more straightforward and less “doo-be-doo” than his father’s version; “Fly Me to the Moon” was helped by “Basie brass”; and the de rigueur “New York, New York” had elegance and drive.
His band members were: Bob Funk, trombone, Jim Fox, guitar, Paul Rostock, rhythm bass, Bob Chmel, drums, Mike Smith, principal saxophone and woodwinds, Tyrone Anthony, principal saxophone and woodwinds, Walt Johnson, principal trumpet and Jeff Morrison on keyboards. They all had terrific solo turns, keeping the audience enthralled.
Sinatra Sings Sinatra was old-fashioned in the best sense: a bunch of guys just dedicated to entertaining us with fantastic songs and colorful arrangements, led by a singer with a total quiet command of the stage.
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