SEDUCTION'S PRIMARY INSTRUMENT: EXTREME FOCUS
Mark Blackburn | Winnipeg, Manitoba Canada | 01/20/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
My words are aimed at young people . . . of a particular sort: You have eclectic tastes. You enjoy some classical music, a little jazz by singer/musicians, such as Diana Krall. Women singers especially, have refined your musical tastes in recent years . . .
You may have read (or heard about) last week's `Op-Ed' column in the New York Times, by "Bono" - an astute, rollicking ode to the genius of Frank Sinatra, from the perspective of an aging, Irish rocker.
If you are asked to "name a Sinatra song," you think first, of him singing that familiar tune, to a million celebrants clotting Times Square at midnight, when The Ball comes down . . .
"If I can make it there, I'll make it anywhere! It's up to you, New York, New York!"
But . . . you don't own ANY Sinatra albums (yet). And, why should you buy a compilation like this one? Why not one of his "theme" albums? (like "WEE SMALL HOURS" -- highest-ranked by musical historians, and personal favorite of his first-born, Nancy. Right, they sang "Somethin' Stupid" together!)
Well, I say . . . Go for the compilation! And if you buy only one, make it this one. Pour yourself a drink, kick back and . . . prepare to be `seduced' by these remarkable songs! (22 on the single CD version; 32 on the Deluxe Edition).
A collection this thoughtfully-assembled (by the folks at RHINO) `flows' in a way that actually resembles one of Sinatra's late-in-life `live' shows. And, at a time when MP3-downloads may eclipse CD sales . . . this may prove to be the ultimate collection, winning new sub-generations of Sinatra fans.
Author Bill Zehme, who wrote the liner notes for this "SEDUCTION" CD, years ago quoted actress Angie Dickinson's two-word summing up of Sinatra's primary instrument of seduction -- "Incredible focus."
The two dated, "off-and-on for ten years, before-and-after they made OCEANS ELEVEN together. Recalling those famous blue `lasers' of his, Ms Dickinson enthused: "You feel swept in . . . he doesn't unnerve you by doing it (but) it's like a drug, swirling around you. He has a magical way, you feel very, very comfortable. And he doesn't ignore you when he's in the company of others. He stays `connected' to you, without coddling.'
(Recalling words Sinatra shared about the Art of Singing: an audience is rather like a woman; "if she senses indifference . . . Endsville!")
Concerning the remarkable arrangements: The lion's share (12) were penned by America's greatest-ever orchestrator, Nelson Riddle; six were arranged by the late Don Costa (Nikka's Dad); three each, from Billy May and Neal Hefti (who died 2008); Quincy Jones wrote two; six other musicians (11 arrangers in all) get credit for one apiece. Those last include the "dean" of living arrangers Johnny Mandel plus Polish-born American, Claus Ogerman (both of whom have arranged recently for Diana Krall).
Every Sinatra compilation (I say) should include at least one song from Frank's historic album with Brazilian musical giant Antonio Carlos Jobim arranged by Claus Ogerman.
[A personal aside: I've always thought of the late Mr. Jobim as "Brazil's Cole Porter." Thus my delight to find the one track here from that great album is Porter's "I Concentrate on You." Recorded in 1967 (a "very good year" for the Sinatra family) Frank emerged from a nighttime session with Jobim to record one of his few million-selling singles -- "Somethin' Stupid" -- with daughter Nancy (a song you will find on most every other Sinatra REPRISE compilation . . . but not on this one.]
Among rarities you'll only find here is a previously unreleased "alternate version" of "My Funny Valentine" - this one from a `live' show that truly ranks among Sinatra's greatest vocal performances. Talk about breath control! The singer sustains with deceptive ease, consecutive phrases "Stay! Pretty Valentine, stay . . . each day is Valentine's Day" -- 15 seconds of Sinatra's `bel canto' virtuosity. (Just try singing along! The old Master will show you up, every time -- you breathless pipsqueak!)
A salute to producer Charles Pignone for making "Prisoner of Love" track Number 1. Sinatra's seductive ways with the Ladies were legendary. Here, however he goes straight to the hearts of all males `consensually enslaved' by beauty. (Hard to believe such words were first sung in prim & proper 1931!)
"For one command I stand and wait now
From One who's master of my fate now . . .
She's in my dreams, awake or sleeping
Upon my knees to her I'm creeping,
My very life is in her keeping . . .
I'm just a prisoner of love."
The ache in Frank's voice! Seems he's `been there, done that.' And listen closely, if you will, to the perfectly-mated arrangement by Don Costa (from their 1961 "Sinatra & Strings" album - one of the first Sinatra CDs you should purchase).
Concerning which obsession, the writer of the pleasurable liner notes, author Bill Zehme, wrote:
"He had a weakness for poise: Elusive Women vexed him . . . drew him in, with their flight, and their casual indifference. Once, at a party at Humphrey Bogart's house, he complained to Lauren Bacall "after following one such specimen around without success: `She's ignoring me!'
To which the rueful Bacall said, `Yeah, she's ignoring you right into the sack.' (Her prophesy was realized!)."
Favorite surprises among these many gems, if I may single out a couple, or three (which I'd not heard until recently on SiriuslySinatra satellite radio - they're not among my 60 Sinatra CDs).
The one song which could have fit, seamlessly, into my all-time favorite "CONCERT SINATRA" album (recorded the same year, 1963) is `Track 9' here: A ravishingly beautiful orchestration by Nelson Riddle, from Rodgers & Hammerstein's SOUTH PACIFIC -- "Some Enchanted Evening." In a word . . . wow! Wonder what the song's composers (my favorites) thought of that one?
Other delightful rarities: "STAY WITH ME" and "ALL THE WAY HOME" . . . the latter, features a gorgeous late-in-life (1983) orchestration by the late Joe Parnello, sometimes band-leader/pianist for Sinatra. [I can imagine Frank listening to the playback of this one, and telling Joe (as he did once to sax giant Johnny Hodges after his solo on "Indian Summer") "My God, that's beautiful!"]
A friend at SinatraFamily.com. points out the similarities in the Parnello arrangement's opening bars, to `Edelweiss' (from THE SOUND OF MUSIC) - just a hint, suggesting "that Joe Parnello was paying homage to Richard Rodgers."
[Rodgers perhaps inadvertently, once paid similar homage to Nelson Riddle's great `counter-melodies -- borrowing, as his five opening notes of "The Sound of Music," the same sequence of notes you'll hear on the closing orchestral flourish of Riddle's great arrangement (4 years earlier) of Sinatra's "TIME AFTER TIME."]
Such subtleties await your detection throughout this marvelous collection of `prime Sinatra.' Look -- if you really appreciate great music -- and need to banish those little town (mid-winter) blues -- do yourself a favor and pick this one up. And why not treat yourself to the "Deluxe Edition" with 10 extra tracks, including some exceptional beauties!
Winnipeg Manitoba Canada
A Fan from the 1940's
Robert Barr | DeLand, FL, USA | 01/21/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I've enjoyed Frank's singing since he wowed the "Bobbysoxers" at the Paramount Theatre in Times Square, NY, in the early 40's. Like good wine, he just got better with age."
Jaunty, sophisticated, and undeniably cool
Matthew G. Sherwin | last seen screaming at Amazon customer service | 02/06/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Seduction: Sinatra Sings Of Love is the one CD version of this release--but wow, what great songs we certainly get! The sound quality is perfect and the artwork is very handsomely done. This is Sinatra at his best, crooning and delving deep into these ballads to deliver them flawlessly and reach your most innermost chords to make a memorable impression. Don't be surprised if you find yourself playing this one over and over again! You also get liner notes written by Bill Zehme.
The CD begins with "Prisoner Of Love;" this version gets a lush musical arrangement that makes great use of the strings and Frank's voice never sounded better. Frank's excellent diction also enhances his ability to make this a wonderful song. "I've Got You Under My Skin" sparkles when The Chairman Of The Board sings this with all his might; "I've Got You Under My Skin" is clearly a major highlight of this album. There's also a sublime rendition of "My Funny Valentine;" this ballad gets the royal treatment from this excellent performer and that's grand.
"All The Way" is another highlight of this excellent CD; Frank sings this to perfection--and beyond! "It Had To Be You" gets a very fine, smooth treatment and that musical arrangement fits in perfectly with Frank's vocals. What a number! I also really like "Some Enchanted Evening" from the musical South Pacific. "Some Enchanted Evening" would make Mario Lanza green with envy! Frank does this one up right. "I Get A Kick Out Of You" is another great tune that Frank aces; he bats this one straight out of the ballpark and the arrangement reveals fine and sophisticated forethought.
"At Long Last Love" shines like fold and silver when Frank Sinatra swings on this tune; Frank performs this with panache and the horns and percussion enhance "At Long Last Love" even more--not that Frank needed it; but it helps nonetheless. Listen also for "They Can't Take That Away From Me;" I really like this classic romantic ballad and when Frank sings this it never sounded so good!
"More" is a song I've always enjoyed since I first heard it all those years ago; and "Teach Me Tonight" is yet another highlight of this exceptional CD. "Teach Me Tonight" is a ballad often sung by Liza Minnelli; and she certainly would love Frank's version! Frank puts his own stamp on this tune with his incredible sense of timing and he uses his voice to convey all the wide range of emotions in the lyrics to this song. "All The Way Home" is a very sweet tune with a pretty melody; and the album ends strong with Frank Sinatra performing "That's All."
But that's all WON'T be what you get if you really like the songs on this album. If you like this CD, there are so many other Frank Sinatra CDs on this website that you've just got to check them out. You won't be disappointed. I recommend this album for Sinatra's fans if they don't have these tracks already in their collections; and people who like classic pop vocals will not be disappointed.