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

Victor L. Schermer By

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52nd Anniversary Celebration of Sid Mark's Sounds of Sinatra Show
Harrah's Marina Hotel
Atlantic City, NJ
November 17, 2007

Sid Mark, a prominent Philadelphia disc jockey, has been hosting a show called Sounds of Sinatra for 52 years. During that time, like the music itself, Sid and his show have become integral parts of the lives of many in the Delaware Valley and the New Jersey Shore. In addition, Sinatra himself frequently performed in Philadelphia and Atlantic City, feeling very much at home in both locations. So for a celebration of Mark's anniversary, radio station 1210 AM had Frank Sinatra Jr. bring on a big, augmented orchestra conducted by Terry Woodson to do his Sinatra Sings Sinatra show, which has been touring the country recently.

Political commentator, Michael Smerconish, a staple on the "talk radio" station for which Mr. Mark's is the only musical program, introduced Sid with obvious admiration, and then the latter—tall, self-composed, and gray-haired—reflected on his many years with Sounds of Sinatra and his recent radio exchanges with Frank, Jr. He then introduced Musical Director Terry Woodson and "The Frank Sinatra Orchestra."

Put simply, the concert that ensued was at once a blast and a sentimental, moving occasion. Sinatra Jr. reprised many of his father's numbers with exquisite sensitivity, taste, and musicianship. The orchestral accompaniment was nothing short of sterling, with the original arrangements of Nelson Riddle, Billy May, Sy Oliver, and other Sinatra Sr. appointees perfectly adapted for Sinatra Jr. and the special ensemble brought together for this gig. In a casino auditorium that had stunningly good acoustics and technology, the sound of the orchestra, consisting of consummate professionals some of whom were part of Sinatra Sr.'s own groups, was bracing if not exhilarating. One might say that the Chairman of the Board would have wanted it that way, because whatever organization he performed with—whether the Tommy Dorsey band, the Red Norvo Quintet, Count Basie, Antonio Carlos Jobim, or the many studio orchestras on his recordings—he insisted on nothing less than musical perfection.

Sinatra Jr., like his father, is a musician's musician, and although he exuded a modest and humble presence, it was obvious that he was the force behind the orchestra's performance, having served during one stretch as his father's musical director and orchestra conductor. Although Frank Jr. has had to tolerate his share of the pundits' derogatory quips and snipes, he knows better than to try to fill his father's unfillable shoes. This Sinatra clearly deserves to be recognized as an outstanding musician in his own right and moreover as a master of his craft. As was all too evident from his singing and his rapport with the orchestra, he has a finely tuned ear, a well-honed flare for interpreting a song, and a superb baritone voice with a wide dynamic range.

For those curious about the top-of-the line personnel comprising the orchestra, a quick review of some of the names and a few brief resumés might be in order here. Conductor Terry Woodson is Sinatra Jr.'s regular conductor, has produced recordings for Sinatra senior (among other stars), and is a studio trombonist. Principal trumpet Walt Johnson has worked with Frank Sinatra Sr., Louie Bellson, Johnny Mathis, Lionel Hampton, Mel Torme, Burt Bacharach, Henry Mancini, and is one of the premier lead players on the Los Angeles studio scene. Principal saxophonist Mike Smith has performed and recorded with over a hundred jazz greats, including Nat Adderley, Clark Terry, Art Farmer, Tony Bennett, Jimmy Heath, Natalie Cole, Linda Ronstadt, Diane Schuur, Gloria Morgan, Kurt Elling, Nancy Wilson, Harry Connick, and Frank Sinatra Sr. Guitarist Ron Anthony spent nine years with the senior Sinatra's orchestra and also with pianist George Shearing. Bassist Paul Rostock has toured with Bobby Vinton, Maynard Ferguson and Frank Sinatra Jr. in addition to performing with jazz greats Phil Woods, Ellis Marsalis, Bob Dorough, John Coates Jr., Bill Watrous, Urbie Green, David "Fathead" Newman, Stanley Turrentine, Eddie Severn, David Leonhardt and The Absolut Trio. Rostock's trumpet has moreover seen stellar service in some of the most popular big bands from the Swing Era, including the high-profile ensembles of Gene Krupa (led by Mike Berkowitz), Les Elgart, and Harry James. Several of the local violinists are members of the Philadelphia Orchestra. In other words, one had only to see the individual musicians' credentials—which read like a Hall of Fame of jazz, classical, and popular music—to understand the basis for the superb ensemble power supporting Sinatra Jr. on this gala occasion.

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