Saturday, December 10, 2011

Sinatra. A Choice Of The Best By The Best

Best of the Best is a new CD compilation for the first time collects Frank Sinatra recordings from both Capitol Records and Reprise Records. The 23 tracks (13 from Capitol and 10 from Reprise) collect his most memorable and iconic recordings. One is hard-pressed to say anything new about this music which should be familiar to many.

From I’ve Got The World On A String to Theme From ‘New York New York’ listeners are treated to classic interpretations of songs from the great tune smiths like Cole Porter, Rogers and Hart, Sammy Cahn and James Van Heusen. These are presented in arrangements from such masters as Nelson Riddle, Don Costa, Billy May, Quincy Jones, and Ernie Freeman. From spectacular big bands to lush orchestra stylings, the voice, the songs and the performances are timeless and marvelously mastered.

Despite the familiarity of the material, some tunes are gong to come off as almost new to the listener such as In the Wee Small Hours Of The Morning, Angel Eyes and Summer Wind. Then there is Fly Me To The Moon from a session with Count Basie that Quincy Jones arranged. At the same time, one appreciates nuances in the songs and the arrangements that one might have missed hearing Sinatra over a Car radio.

Frank Sinatra Jr. provides commentary on each performance, providing insights on how the material was selected and the imprint his father’s recording left. For example, I was unaware that a Kingston Trio recording was the basis of Sinatra’s classic,It Was a Very Good Year. As his son notes, Frank Sinatra was unequalled in recognizing great lyrics. Sinatra’s music has been anthologized, subject of box sets, and prior “Best Of” collections. Let others quarrel about specific songs that are not included. I will simply continue to enjoy the Best of the Best.

Incidentally, this is available as simply a CD, or in a deluxe package that also includes a DVD of a long out-of-print Seattle concert. I did not receive a copy of the DVD so cannot comment on it.

I received a review copy from a publicist. Here is a you tube clip of him singing perhaps the song most associated with him (except for Yankee fans).

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