Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Frank's Way

Download: Drinking Again
Today is Frank Sinatra's birthday. If he were still alive, he'd be 93 years old. Frank might seem a bit out of place on Soul Spectrum, but I don't really care and anyone who says that Frank Sinatra didn't have soul is a good-fah-nuttin-dirty-bird, as my Grandpa would say.

If you're in New York, come on by Huckleberry Bar in Williamsburg tonight for a tribute to Ol' Blue Eyes featuring yours truly as well as DJs Deepak Chopra and Amadeus. Click on the flyer above for all the relevant details.

But, seeing as this is Soul Spectrum I'm not gonna talk about the obvious Frank Sinatra touchstones, but instead focus on his intersection with Brazilian music, namely his collaboration with Antonio Carlos Jobim. This is where my appreciation for Frank all began.

Back in college and the years after I collected nearly every recording I could find that had anything to do with Bossa Nova. I was possessed by this Brazilian genre and its waves that emanated in Brazil reaching almost every foreign shore, from the U.S. to France to Japan. One of my all-time favorite non-brazilian Bossa Nova albums is the album Francis Albert Sinatra & Antonio Carlos Jobim from 1967. There's a particular quote from the liner-notes to this album that speak to the different mood and style that Sinatra was taking with these songs. After the trombone player botched a note, he said to Sinatra apologetically, "If I blow any softer, it’ll hafta come out the back of my neck.” The liner notes for this album are particularly great. Read them here.

In all of Sinatra's career he never recorded an album of songs from only one composer with the exception of Antonio Carlos Jobim for whom he recorded TWO full albums. The first one in 1967 and then the second one was recorded in 1969 with fellow Brazilian, Eumir Deodato (before his mega-hit remake of the Theme to 2001), but the planned album "SinatraJobim" was released in 1970 but then immediately recalled after only 3,500 8-track tapes were sent out to stores in California. Seven of the ten songs from this album would later be released on Sinatra's 1971 album "Sinatra & Company"

So, what of the three tracks that were not released on "SinatraJobim"? There was Off-Key (Desafinado), Sabia and Bonita. To complicate matters further "Sabia" and "Bonita" were later issued in Brazil on a double-LP set called "Sinatra-Jobim Sessions" which featured all of the songs from the 1967 and 1969 sessions (except "Off-Key") as well as "Manha de Carnaval" with Brazilian guitarist Luiz Bonfa accompanying Sinatra from his "My Way" album and another song called "Drinking Again" that must have been recorded during the 1967 with Jobim but not released on the album. It was released later in 1967 on and album called " Frank Sinatra and the World We Knew." I have included this song here at the top of this post.

You can find the Sinatra-Jobim Sessions and the holy-grail "SinatraJobim" album on the treasure cove of long-lost Brazilian records: Lornonix Using Zeca's "Find It" feature you can link to both albums available for download, though the tracklisting is a bit wrong as the "Sessions" download includes "Off-Key" though it is not on the original LP, believe me I know I'm lucky enough to have scored it when down in Brazil.

Download: The Lady Is a Tramp
Speaking of Brazil . . . Like I mentioned yesterday when talking about Brazilian musicians there is a tendency to make comparisons with American stars. While of course there are flaws in every comparison, Dick Farney was most definitely the "Brazilian Frank Sinatra." In fact, during Dick's heyday in the late 50s and early 60s, the Frank Sinatra-Dick Farney Fan Club was ground zero for many future Bossa Nova stars such as Joao Donato and Johnny Alf, among others. In addition to having a repertoire and voice similar to Sinatra's, Farney was an excellent jazz pianist and many of his albums were straight instrumental sets. Farney has quite a following over at Lornonix, so be sure to swing by and download some Dick Farney albums.

No comments: