Frank Sinatra
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Frank Sinatra with Dean Martin.
Frank Sinatra
Frank Sinatra - the biography
Though Frank Sinatra's reputation as celebrity, icon, bad boy, and possibly the greatest singer of American popular songs of the century are paramount to the general public, he has always been valued highly in the jazz community, especially among musicians. Though not a jazz singer per se, he was a child of the big-band era, incubated with an ability to swing in a relaxed, ingratiating way in all kinds of material. Whenever he had the chance, Sinatra would credit Billie Holiday as a primary influence on his vocal style -- even recording a tribute song called "Lady Day" in 1970 -- and he learned circular breathing at the feet of trombonist Tommy Dorsey. Particularly from the mid-1950s into the mid-1960s, Sinatra would use expert jazzmen prominently in his recording orchestras, as well as arrangers who cut their teeth in the big-band era.

He was at his freest and loosest when paired with a great big band like that of Count Basie, where he would bend to the rhythm, embroider the melody, and stray from the tune to the point where non-jazz-oriented aficionados of singing would become disoriented. Indeed, the theory has been advanced that during the `60s, flinging himself head-on against the rock & roll tide of the time, Sinatra was actually able to revive the big-band era in terms of mass popularity, record sales, concert receipts, and media exposure -- although this time, the orientation was in favor of the singer rather than the band. Had he chosen to explore it more, Sinatra could have also been the most important bossa nova singer of his time; even so, the two albums he did make with Antonio Carlos Jobim display an uncanny emotional affinity for the idiom. Other than Brazilian music, though, Sinatra stayed away from developments in jazz beyond swing (unless one counts a quirk like his notorious "do-be-do-be-do" scatting at the close of "Strangers In the Night").

The son of an ex-boxer and a domineering, ambitious mother, Sinatra quit school early in order to begin his musical career, winning the Major Bowes Amateur Hour radio contest at 19 as a member of the Hoboken Four. Shortly after leaving Benny Goodman to form his own big band, Harry James hired Sinatra as a featured singer in 1939, and graciously relinquished him to Tommy Dorsey the following year. Backed by the vocal group the Pied Pipers, Sinatra's star rose to the point where in 1942, he broke out of the Dorsey ranks with four solo sides on his own. The wild, orgiastic reaction that Sinatra aroused during the war years announced the rise of the solo singer act in pop music, a development that would help send the big bands reeling. Though Sinatra was known mostly for his smooth, straightforward ballads during what are now known as the Columbia years (1943-52), occasionally his primary arranger Axel Stordahl and others like George Siravo would cook up a big-band chart for him. He also recorded "Sweet Lorraine" with the Metronome All-Stars (including Nat Cole and members of the Dorsey and Ellington bands) in 1946 and other intimately jazzy sides with the small combos of Page Cavanaugh, Phil Moore and Tony Mottola.

Upon moving to the Capitol label in 1953, many of Sinatra's recordings took on a tougher, more swinging, jazz-driven edge, with first Nelson Riddle and then, more vehemently, Billy May contributing sophisticated extensions of big-band-era techniques. The apex of the Riddle recordings is Songs for Swingin' Lovers (1955-56), where Sinatra rides confidently along with the swing of the band; May's charts for Come Fly With Me (1957) and Come Swing With Me (1958) push the swing envelope even farther and harder. The move to Sinatra's own label Reprise in 1961 found the singer working with other jazz-grounded arrangers like Johnny Mandel, Neal Hefti and Quincy Jones, as well as May and Riddle. In addition to Sinatra and Swingin' Brass , Hefti wrote the charts for Sinatra's initial studio encounter with Basie, Sinatra/Basie, while Jones did the follow-up, It Might As Well Be Swing , and conducted the live album with Basie, Sinatra at the Sands . A bit late for the bossa nova boom, Sinatra started working with Jobim in 1967 and again in 1969 -- the latter session did not come out in its entirety until 1995 -- and 1967 also saw a one-time-only summit meeting with Duke Ellington's orchestra.

Following a short "retirement" (1971-73), a darker-toned Sinatra usually worked live in tandem with a big band sometimes augmented by strings, playing the vintage and occasionally new arrangements whose creators the singer almost always credited by name. The Woody Herman band played the old charts on Sinatra's live album The Main Event, and for Sinatra's last ungimmicked studio album, L.A. Is My Lady , Quincy Jones assembled an all-star band full of famous jazzers like George Benson, Randy and Michael Brecker, and Lionel Hampton. Sinatra kept on singing into his late 70s, well after the point when his voice had lost its luster and elasticity. All that was left was his exquisite control over phrasing stemming largely from jazz influences -- and in many cases, that was enough. He retired in 1995 after experiencing memory lapses in performances; after years of rumors about his failing health, he died of a heart attack on May 14, 1998, his reputation as the master of American popular song unassailably intact.

Capitol albums
In The Wee Small Hours W581 Swing Easy/Songs For Young Lovers W587 Songs For Swingin' Lovers (Facing Away From Couple) W653 Songs For Swingin' Lovers (Facing Toward Couple) W653 High Society (Soundtrack) W750 High Society (Soundtrack) SW750 This Is Sinatra T768 Close To You W789 A Swingin' Affair W803 Where Are You? W855 Where Are You? SW855 The Man I Love W8064 The Man I Love SW864 A Jolly Christmas W894 A Jolly Christmas (Christmas Gift Cover) W894 Pal Joey (Soundtrack) W912 Pal Joey (Soundtrack) SW902 Come Fly With Me W920 Come Fly With Me SW920 This Is Sinatra, Vol. 2 W982 Only The Lonely W1053 Come Dance With Me W1069 Come Dance With Me SW1069 Look To Your Heart W1164 No One Cares W1221 No One Cares SW1221 Can-Can (Soundtrack) W1301 Can-Can (Soundtrack) SW1301 Nice 'n' Easy W1417 Nice 'n' Easy SW1417 Swingin' Easy W1429 Songs For Young Lovers W1432 Sinatra's Swingin' Session SW1491 All The Way SW1538 Come Swing With Me SW1594 Point Of No Return SW1676 The Great Years WOC1726 The Great Years SWOC1726 Sinatra Sings Of Love And Things W1729 1962 Sinatra Sings Of Love And Things SW1729 Sinatra Sings Rodgers And Hart T1919 Sinatra Sings The Select Johnny Mercer W1994 The Greatest Hits Of Frank Sinatra T2036 Sinatra Sings The Select Hits Of Harold Arlen W2123 Sinatra Sing The Select Cole Porter W2301 Forever Frank T2602
The Movie Songs T2700 The Frank Sinatra Deluxe Set STFL2814 The Best Of Frank Sinatra

Reprise LP's Title No.
Ring-a-Ding-Ding F-1001
Ring-a-Ding-Ding R9-1001
Swing Along With Me F-1002
Swing Along With Me R9-1002
Sinatra Swings F-1002
Sinatra Swings R9-1002
I Remember Tommy F-1003
I Remember Tommy R9-1003
Sinatra And Strings F-1004
Sinatra And Strings R9-1004
Sinatra And Swingin' Brass F-1005
Sinatra And Swingin' Brass R9-1005
All Alone F-1007
All Alone R9-1007
Sinatra-Basie F-1008
Sinatra-Basie R9-1008
The Concert Sinatra F-1009
The Concert Sinatra R9-1009
Sinatra's Sinatra F-1010
Sinatra's Sinatra R9-1010
Days Of Wine And Roses F-1011
Days Of Wine And Roses FS-1011
It Might As Well Be Swing F-1012
It Might As Well Be Swing FS-1012
Softly As I Leave You F-1013
Softly As I Leave You FS-1013
September Of My Years F-1014
September Of My Years FS-1014
My Kind Of Broadway F-1015
My Kind Of Broadway FS-1015
A Man And His Music 2F-1016
A Man And His Music 2FS-1016
Strangers In The Night F-1017
Strangers In The Night FS-1017
Moonlight Sinatra F-1018
Moonlight Sinatra FS-1018
Sinatra At The Sands 2F-1019
Sinatra At The Sands 2FS-1019
That's Life F-1020
That's Life FS-1020
Francis Albert Sinatra/Antonio Carlos Jobim F-1021
Francis Albert Sinatra/Antonio Carlos Jobim FS-1021
The World We Knew F-1022
The World We Knew FS-1022
Francis A. And Edward K. FS-1024
Frank Sinatra's Greatest Hits FS-1025
The Sinatra Family Wish You A Merry Christmas FS-1026
Cycles FS-1027
My Way FS-1029
A Man Alone FS-1030
Watertown FS-1031
Frank Sinatra's Greatest Hits Vol. 2 FS-1032
Sinatra And Company FS-1033
Frank Sinatra's Greatest Hits Vol. 3 FS-1034
Reprise Repertory Theatre "Finian's Rainbow" F-2015
Reprise Repertory Theatre "Finian's Rainbow" FS-2015
Reprise Repertory Theatre "Guys And Dolls" F-2016
Reprise Repertory Theatre "Guys And Dolls" FS-2016
Reprise Repertory Theatre "Kiss Me Kate" F-2017
Reprise Repertory Theatre "Kiss Me Kate" FS-2017
Reprise Repertory Theatre "South Pacific" F-2018
Reprise Repertory Theatre "South Pacific" FS-2018
Reprise Repertory Theatre 4F-2019
Reprise Repertory Theatre 4FS-2019
America I Hear You Singing F-2020
America I Hear You Singing FS-2020
Robin And The Seven Hoods F-2021
Robin And The Seven Hoods FS-2021
Twelve Songs Of Christmas F-2022
Twelve Songs Of Christmas FS-2022
Ol' Blue Eyes Is Back FS-2155
Some Nice Things I've Missed FS-2195
Sinatra The Main Event FS-2207
Trilogy FS-2300
She Shot Me Down FS-2302
L.A. Is My Lady 25145
Sinatra '65 R-6167
Sinatra '65 R9-6167

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