Frank Sinatra & Antonio Jobim – Francis Albert Sinatra/Antonio Carlos Jobim: The Complete Recordings

January 01, 1970



If there’s any one real big surprise in store for
anyone savvy enough to pick up on the recently released Francis Albert Sinatra/Antonio Carlos Jobim: The Complete Recordings (Concord) it would be how familiar so many of these songs are and how many
Antonio Carlos Jobim had a hand in composing. “The Girl From Ipanema”, “Quiet
Nights Of Quiet Stars”, “Meditation” and “One Note Samba” are just a handful of
the sixteen out of twenty songs on the disc written or co-written by guitarist
and samba king Jobim. Even if the titles – beyond “Ipanema” – aren’t familiar
right away, as you listen, recognition will creep up on you like a pleasant
champagne buzz on a warm spring night on a beach in Rio.
The music’s really, really good, and Sinatra’s singing is immaculate. But let’s
talk about the notes.


The booklet contains what reads like an eyewitness
account of the two separate recording periods; January 30-February 1 1967 and
February 11th through February 13th; a hell of a
productive six days. For that and its anecdotal detail it’s worth wading
through the snotty, pompous and, most important, inaccurate anti pop and rock
and roll jibes of its author, former Warner Bros. exec Stan Cornyn.  Cornyn mentions how by the time of these
sessions Sinatra’s Reprise label – a Warners subsidiary and the original label
for these recordings – had shifted its focus from the “good music” of Eddie
Fisher and Perry Como for the “odd” music of Tiny Tim, Captain Beefheart and
the Fugs.


Conceding the “oddness” of such acts, it’s still
no exaggeration to say that neither Fisher nor the somnambulistic Como have maintained
the enduring popularity of other Reprise “good music” artists like Sinatra,
Sammy Davis or Dean Martin any more than, say, Tiny Tim or the Fugs have
endured the way other “hip” Reprise acts like Joni Mitchell, Jimi Hendrix, Van
Morrison, Neil Young and Gordon Lightfoot have. More important, Cornyn’s jabs at
rock and roll and pop music are completely unnecessary. Nothing has to be torn
down so that Jobim and especially Sinatra can be built up. For Cornyn the idea
that one can appreciate both Frank Sinatra and the Kinks is completely unfathomable; too bad for him.


Caligula used to lament that “all of Rome” didn’t have a
“single neck” that he could slit at one time. Many feel the same way about the
Andrew Lloyd Webers, Simon Cowells etc., who have ruined what Sinatra used to
call “saloon singing,” helping to convince the world that Michael Bublé
represents the state of the art of that particular genre. The truth is that for
those who get the chance to be heard in the first place, few have the chops or
the balls to present a song the way Sinatra could at his best. Sinatra recorded
these songs between his 51st and 53rd birthdays when he
was a mature artist at the top of his game, his voice confident and strong,
subtle and never once lapsing into the histrionics that characterizes the Weber-ites
and Cowell-istas. Sinatra recognized how important melody is and had the guts
and skill to stick to one rather than woo woo-ing his way all over a tune.


This collection of twenty songs from two great
artists (one of whom is among  the
greatest pop singers of all time) is a reminder that while snobs like Cornyn
were wrong about the “what” and the “why” of “good” and “bad” music,
the notion rings true. One way to explain would be to cite a few hundred
comparative examples, but it’ll take up less time and space to say it this way:
American Idol – bad; Frank Sinatra – good.


Standout Tracks: “One Note Samba,”  “Meditation” RICK ALLEN


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