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Live Reviews

Sid Mark's Anniversary Concert with Frank Sinatra Jr. and All-Star Band at Harrah's, Atlantic City

By Published: December 8, 2007
Then Sinatra Jr. went to a program recapping his legendary fatherâ????s musical career chronologically, by decades. From the early Tommy Dorsey band of the 1940s, there was the Sy Oliver arrangement of "Without a Song" followed by the obscure "I Believe" (not the traditional spiritual ballad, but the one that begins "I believe, I believe, I believe in wishing wells, But I also believe in a lot of things, Things the daisy tells..."). Sinatra Jr. here interjected some scholarly research, showing that Sinatra recorded 1760 different songs during his career, a remarkable if not singular achievement. From the 1950â????s, we heard "Night and Day" (which Sinatra recorded no fewer than six times beginning with Dorsey in the early '40s), "Iâ????ve Got the World on a String," "The French Foreign Legion," and "My Funny Valentine" (from the Chairmanâ????s first LP). The 1960â????s brought us "For Once in My Life (I Have Someone Who Needs Me)," "The Summer Wind" (which was very meaningful for this Atlantic City audience—visibly enraptured), and the iconic "Strangers in the Night." (Jr. tells us that his father got tired of that song; quite honestly, so did the author of this review!) From the 1970s there was, of course, "New York, New York"—in fact, the only tune Sinatra Jr. selected to represent that period. Conspicuously absent (and with no explanation) were any of the bossa nova performances from the two classic LPs the elder Sinatra made with Anton Carlos Jobim.

Next, the younger Sinatra took some time to reflect on and demonstrate the attributes of a few of his fatherâ????s lesser-known numbers, performing "So Long My Love," and Legrandâ????s beautiful ballad "Summer Me, Winter Me," from the film Picasso Summer. The show concluded with a powerful but well-controlled rendition of "My Way," which became symbolic of Sinatraâ????s life and brought the audience to a standing ovation, for which Sinatra Jr. was clearly appreciative. If he couldnâ????t fill his fatherâ????s shoes (who could?), he more than filled his own.

On a personal note, I couldn't shake one particular reservation—perhaps unavoidable and not limited to this reviewer alone—about this otherwise outstanding concert. The awareness of the father-son relationship and the intrusive question about whether the performer had sacrificed himself unnecessarily for the sake of "dad" rather than developing his own musical persona, or "charisma," interfered (initially, at least) with the listening process. Such a "compare-contrast" mentality by the public has hounded Frank Jr. throughout his career. (Who's not to say that if he had been named Joe or Bill, his career might have gone easier for him?) Once past that obstacle, it was all too clear—to this reviewer and all those in attendance—what a fine musician he is in his own right. As someone who covets serious jazz, which both Sinatras always closely identified themselves with, I was glad that not for a moment during this concert did the music degenerate for the sake of popular appeal—an undeniable quality of excellence was maintained throughout.

On a further positive note, it was moving and not necessarily expected to witness the devotion and nostalgia of the many died-in- the- wool Sinatra fans who filled the auditorium to capacity. Sinatra seemed to represent for them the straightforward courage and romanticism that is so lacking in the contemporary world and its music. The Chairmanâ????s singing was the "soundtrack" for the personal lives of several generations, reinforcing people's strivings and even bringing out their humanity. Frank Sinatra's son and also Sid Mark are to be credited for keeping this significant tradition alive.

Although Sinatra was a complex figure who often alienated those around him by his street-wise arrogance, he was also a man of great generosity and purpose, never flinching from manifesting his real and true self, whether in his music or his life. Undoubtedly, he would have been proud to see the more humble, self-effacing way his son has dedicated himself to the music, values, and tradition that his father stood for and, to a great extent, was responsible for creating.

[This reviewer would like to express special thanks to his long-time good friend, Janine Carazo (educator, accomplished vocalist, and Sinatra fan), who accompanied him to the concert and contributed many useful musical observations. Finally, deep appreciation to Sid Mark's wife Judy and members of the Mark family for their unreserved hospitality and warmth.]

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