In the midst of some of the aural horrors that roar out of the radios
and the juke boxes these days, it is well to remember that Frank Sinatra
is one of the most successful vocal artists on record, the complete refutation
of the theory that if it's good, it won't sell. With Sinatra, it's good
and it does sell and like Picasso and Miles Davis and Duke Ellington and
very, very few others, the level of artistic consistency is remarkably
Some people have the giftto tell a story and make it memorable. Never
mind the words, they're dull when mouthed by someone else; never mind
the point, even, others will blunt it. It's the performance that counts.
Joe E. Lewis does this, W.C. Fields did it and Sinatra does it with a
It must be a wonderful feeling to be able, as Sinatra is, to flick on
the radio any hour of the day or night and within ten minutes hear one
of a legion of other singers pay the ultimate compliment of imitation.
When you do something so good that this can happen, you have laid it down
for the ages and done so in an art that is terrifying in its transilience.
George Bernard Shaw once remarked that the ability to take liberties
was the secret of success in private life. A singer's public appearances
are are a private life between him and his audience and it is a testament
to Sinatra's supreme capabilities that he constantly takes liberties which
make it. Listen to the low tones he gets on "Easy To Love,"
hear the way he comes in on "When I Take My Sugar To Tea," listen
to his pronunciation on "A Fine Romance."
The tempos and the phrasing, both done with ease and naturalness, are
once again present in the form that has made his style strong enough for
a dozen others to carve careers for themselves within its outlines. One
of the aspects of this style, which must make playing in the accompanying
band such a ball, is its sheer musicianship. A good musician sings on
his instrument; Sinatra sings as though he were a strong, mellow horn.
There are few better examples of this musicianship than the delightful
way in which the trumpet of Don Fagerquist fits with Sinatra's voice to
form a perfect interplay of lines in "A Foggy Day." And with
the mention of Fagerquist, it should be noted that Sinatra's recording
dates, ever since he gained his recording liberty and has had control
of them, have always included enough hard core jazz musicians to give
even his sweetest singing a slight jazz flavor.
Earlier I remarked that the radio offers the flattery of imitation to
Sinatra by the hour. It also offers additional proof, if that were needed,
of his creative individuality. Coast down the dial and catch a vocal;
two bars and you'll know if it's Sinatra. Who else could come on intimate
and soft, as he does in "When I Take My Sugar To Tea," and yet
remain as absolutely masculine as Rocky Marciano? Singing a popular ballad,
with that indefinable touch of insinuating charm, is a tight rope to walk.
A little too far to one side and the effect collapses into a very unmasculine
impression. That question never arises with Sinatra.
The hard glare of publicity and the ravages of the cult of personality
in our society wrecks many artists. They have to be strong and their art
has to be strong and vital to survive. The great process of mass popularity
and mass culture has a vicious tendency to demean art. When you appeal
to the mass, you usually appeal to the least common denominator. Once
again, it is a tribute to Sinatra that he does not do this and never has.
He is the living proof that quality has a place in the mass society. And
in some mystical way, perhaps, his success with quality is a reaffirmation
of the basic positive good of life itself.
A word about the accompaniment on this album: The trumpet on
"A Foggy Day" and "Easy To Love" is Don Fagerquist;
on "A Fine Romance" it is John Anderson. Bill Miller is the
pianist heard on "Be Careful, It's My Heart," Emil Richards
is the vibraphonist on "I've Got My Love To Keep Me Warm" and
Bud Shank (flute) and Frank Rosolino (trombone) are heard on "You
And The Night And The Music."
Johnny Mandel, one of the very best of the young crop of jazz-based arrangers
and conductors, leads the band and wrote the arrangements for most of
the songs. A native New Yorker, he studied under Stefan Wolpe and at Juilliard,
has played trombone with many bands including Jimmy Dorsey and Count Basie
and is the composer of several well known jazz numbers, including "Not
Really The Blues," "Straight Life," "Pot Luck"
and "Hershey Bar."
Ralph J. Gleason, 1961,
San Fransisco Chronicle and Times-Mirror Syndicate.
Ring-A-Ding Ding! (1961)
Reprise 9 46933-2
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
Ding! from Amazon.co.uk.