Sid Mark's Anniversary Concert with Frank Sinatra Jr. and All-Star Band at Harrah's, Atlantic City
The show began with a well-crafted orchestral overture that included a medley of Sinatra Sr.-associated tunes such as "The Most Wonderful Girl in the World," "I Get a Kick out of You," "Young at Heart," "Iâ????ve Got You Under My Skin," "Strangers in the Night," and "New York, New York." Junior then took the stage, launching into "Look Down that Lonesome Road" with a touch of that late-night, laid-back but assertive bluesy swing that his father loved and practically owned. Throughout, rather than attempting to "imitate" his father, Frank Jr. sang in a straight-ahead manner that tastefully incorporated his fatherâ????s rhythmic inflections and unique ability to "swing." Sinatra Sr. and Jr. have approximately the same vocal range, so at times Old Blue Eyes was uncannily evoked, but always it was his son whose presence predominated. To the delight of the audience, Sinatra Jr. reprised Great American Songbook standards like "I Wish I Were in Love Again," "Lazy River," Sâ????Wonderful," "Come Rain or Come Shine" and one song never recorded by his father, Alan Bergman's "That Face" (also the title of Frank Sinatra Jr.'s recent CD).
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 audiencevisibly 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 reservationperhaps unavoidable and not limited to this reviewer aloneabout 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 clearto this reviewer and all those in attendancewhat 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 appealan 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.