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Buy 'Songs For Swingin' Lovers' from Amazon.co.uk.Songs For Swingin' Lovers

It was Capitol Records producer Voyle Gilmore who had the inspired idea of teaming Frank Sinatra and arranger-conductor Nelson Riddle. The two first joined forces on the singer's second recording session for Capitol, held April 30, 1953, at which were recorded four standards, and from the beginning it was apparent that the rapport between the two was uncanny, even magical. No other orchestrator had served Sinatra as well, with as much taste, sensitivity and wittiness, and over the following decade he acted as arranger-conductor on fully two-thirds of Sinatra's more than 300 Capitol recordings.

The reasons for this are immediately evident in the 15 selections that comprise this classic album collaboration between the two. The product of five separate recording sessions held in Capitol studios in October of 1955 and January of the following year, SONGS FOR SWINGIN' LOVERS, like the three Sinatra-Riddle albums that preceded it, had been conceived as an integral set of recordings, the song materials having been selected and the orchestrations devised to convey a consistent, unified mood - bright, insouciant, urbane, witty, colored with the smoky pastel hues and easy, bouyant rhythms of jazz.

Riddle was the perfect arranger to frame such effortlessly swinging settings for the singer for he, like Sinatra himself, had come out of the big bands that had ruled American popular music through the 1940s. Starting out as a trombonist, Riddle had played in the orchestra of Tommy Dorsey - the instrumentalist, incidentally, on whom Sinatra had patterned his smooth legato phrasing style when he had been featured with the Dorsey band - to which he soon had begun contributing arrangements in the band's popular jazz-inflected style. Settling in los Angeles, Riddle sought to establish himself as an orchestrator and quickly gained success with his deft, imaginative writing for horns and strings. Prior to his fruitful association with Sinatra he had written arrangements for a number of Capitol Records artists and had in fact contributed to two of the label's biggest hits, Nat Cole's MONA LISA and Ella Mae Morse's BLACKSMITH BLUES.

Still, there can be nodoubt that his collaboration with Sinatra, the single greatest interpreter of popular song of our time, brought forth Riddle's finest, most consistently resourceful writing. An utter perfectionist when it came to commiting his art to record, Sinatra, if only by example, always drew the best from his collaborators. "Working with Frank was always a challenge," Riddle observed, "Never a relaxed man, as Nat Cole was, for example, he was a perfectionist who drove himself and everybody around him relentlessly...He showed me how to insist on certain things from an orchestra, so I guess you could say I learned from Frank like he learned from me. But we always did things his way. He knows what's good for him and for the music. He expects your best - just that."

And just that's what we have here. Listening to the marvelously sympathetic, effortlessly swinging orchestrations Riddle provided the singer on these selections, it's easy to understand why the album is rightly considered one of their landmark achievements - as satisfying today as when recorded 30 years ago, and just as fresh-sounding - and why Sinatra described Riddle as "the greatest arranger in the world."

Riddle's contributions and those of the musicians notwithstanding, it is Sinatra's show all the way and from the opening notes of the zesty YOU MAKE ME FEEL SO YOUNG to the singer's final descending swoop on HOW ABOUT YOU there's no doubt we are in the presence of greatness. The singer sustains a mood of light-hearted bravado throughout the selections, his nonchalant but, oh, so perfectly controlled singing matched up with an absolutely stunning program of songs that brings out his artful best. With almost two decades of experience behind him, Sinatra was at the very peak of his form on these performances, his voice warm and ingratiating, darker-hued than in the decade preceding his Capitol years and possessing a rich, easy-sounding phrasing, conversational in character, that make these performances so richly, timelessly rewarding and Sinatra's the ne plus ultra of popular singing, the standard by which all others have been and continue to be judged.

"Sinatra's singing on this album," noted critic John Rockwell in his SINATRA, AN AMERICAN CLASSIC (Random House, 1984), "has a verve and conviction that make his records from the Forties sound bland. He has learned to tease and twist a vocal line without violating its integrity. By now, he knows how to kick forward a song's rhythmic impetus by the percussive articulation of key one-syllable words...The album as a whole breathes with a delightful blend of Riddle's naughty sweetness and Sinatra's witty bravado." Its judicious selection of songs, its consistent emotional mood, Riddle's bracing orchestrations, and Sinatra's flawless, ebullient singing - all combine to make SONGS FOR SWINGIN' LOVERS an all but perfect album, onr of the singular achievements in a career marked by numerous moments of greatness. Ars longa, after all.

Pete Welding

Songs For Swingin' Lovers (1956)

Capitol CDP 7 46570 2

You Make Me Feel So Young
It Happened In Monterey
You're Getting To Be A Habit With Me
You Brought A New Kind Of Love To Me
Too Marvelous For Words
Old Devil Moon
Pennies From Heaven
Lover Is Here To Stay
I've Got You Under My Skin
I Thought About You
We'll Be Together Again
Makin' Whoopee
Swingin' Down The Lane
Anything Goes

Buy Songs For Swingin' Lovers from Amazon.co.uk.

Songs For Swingin' Lovers
The Sinatra Christmas Album
Come Fly With Me
Only The Lonely
No One Cares
Nice 'N' Easy
Ring-A-Ding Ding!
Point Of No Return
Great Songs From Great Britain
The Concert Sinatra
September Of My Years
Moonlight Sinatra
Strangers In The Night
The World We Knew
A Man Alone
Sinatra & Company
Some Nice Things I Missed
Sinatra Love Songs
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