Recorded in '59 and just reissued on CD, this homage is described by pianist Oscar Peterson as "not only a tribute to Frank Sinatra but also my emotional interpretation of the feeling I get when I hear him." The album was part of a popular five album songbook set of the music of various songwriters and singers, all recorded in the same year.
Smartly and very concisely arranged by Peterson, all the tunes on A Jazz Portrait of Frank Sinatra are associated with the vocalist widely considered to be the best male interpreter of the American popular song. And like Sinatra, they all swing and show a deep love of rich melody and intelligent lyrics. On "Come Dance With Me" and "Witchcraft," for example, Peterson and his trio mates hold the famous melodies very tightly to their chests, allowing the listener to practically sing along as they play chorus after chorus. On "Just in Time" and "You Make Me Feel So Young," the master pianist demonstrates his exquisite timing.
Peterson's renditions, however, are generally a little too faithful to the originals. And like Sinatra's singing style, he takes no risks. It is only on "All of Me" and "How About You?" that Peterson begins to employ his considerable chops and improvise, but only for a very brief period. The solos end before they have barely begun.
A Jazz Portrait of Frank Sinatra is an easy-listening jazz album perfect for candlelit dinners. Expertly remastered in 24-bit digital transfer, the sound quality is very good. While it's a highly listenable album, I only wish that Peterson, bassist Ray Brown and drummer Ed Thigpen had chosen to push the envelope on these classic tunes with more improvisational embellishment.
Personnel: Oscar Peterson: piano; Ray Brown: bass; Ed Thigpen: drums.