Frank Sinatra with The Count Basie Orchestra: Sinatra at the Sands

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Frank Sinatra with The Count Basie Orchestra

Sinatra at The Sands



Following a career revival marked by signing to Capitol, Frank Sinatra fell into a downward spiral not long after starting his own label, Reprise Records. After some of his weakest recordings since the Columbia singles in the late forties, Frankie struck gold. Sinatra at The Sands was, simply put, brilliant!

Although his Capitol years, 1954-1962, are considered his peak by most critics-and I have to agree as well-the early Reprise catalogue had its moments as well, featuring more cuts with Nelson Riddle and some recordings with Count Basie which overshadowed what was becoming mediocre work. Singles that featured some great arrangements of classics and Sinatra favorites such as "Summer Wind," "Strangers in the Night" and "That's Life" proved Frank could still hold his own in the sixties. But with the 1966 release of Sinatra at The Sands , Frank proved he was still the King.

Jazz has always been the exception in popular music when it comes to live records. Live jazz transcends all boundaries of its form, and Sinatra at The Sands is no exception. Fronting Count Basie's Orchestra with Quincy Jones conducting and arranging, Sinatra is in his environment. While working the crowd he pulls out some his best chops in years. Set in an ultra relaxed lounge affair, this was the first live record that The Chairman allowed for release.

What makes this record unique is the work of Quincy Jones. Although Sinatra's work with Nelson Riddle is second to none, Q writes stunning scores that soak up and gel with Frank's phrasings. Frank's voice was still solid live and his take on classics such as "Fly Me to the Moon," "Angel Eyes," and "It was a Very Good Year" stand out as some of his finest readings. Mixing this cocktail of Q, The Count and The Chairman is one-two knockout.

Although the band is hopping and Frank's bobbing, his off-color humor and rambling monologue comes off dated and insensitive, but that's swinging Rat Pack-era Sinatra. From this point on, Sinatra began to experiment and it came off with mixed results. But Sinatra at the Sands is still is the definitive post Capitol picture of one of music's most popular and influential entertainers.

Suggested Listening:

Chet Baker— My Funny Valentine (Blue Note 1953)

Tony Bennett— I Left My Heart in San Francisco (Columbia 1962)

June Christy— Something Cool (Blue Note 1953)

Billy Eckstine With Quincey Jones— At Basin St. East (EmArcy 1961)

Ella Fitzgerald— Sings The Cole Porter Song Book (Verve 1956)

Billie Holiday— Lady Day: The Complete Billie Holiday on Columbia (1933-1944) (Columbia 2001)

Nina Simone— Nina at the Village Gate (Roulette 1961)

Frank Sinatra— Songs For Swingin' Lovers (Capitol 1955)

Anita O'Day— Anita Sings the Most (Verve 1957)

Mel Torme & the Marty Paich Dek-tette— Lulu's Back in Town (Rhino 1956)

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