Sinatra-Basie: Reprise Sessions - JazzWax

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September 13, 2011


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Jean-François PITET

I'm sure a lot of people would like to put their hands (and ears) on the COMPLETE outtakes from those sessions who are so interesting. You really can hear and understand the way Sinatra worked with an orchestra, the arrangers and the staff. There are gems among those takes.
By the way, "It Might as Well Be Swing" and "At the Sands" are on the stack for the famous desert island of mine (and don't forget the "Before Frank" CD!)!

Jeff Sultanof


It is now well known that Billy Byers is actually the arranger of most if not all of the arrangements credited to Q. I've seen original manuscripts of a number of them at this point, and can attest that Byers did them.

Pat Gannon

Damn, Basie and Sinatra should have recorded 100+ albums together (just like I wish Pops and Ella had but didn't, alas)!!!. What a combination of swingin' energies,wow.Not to say that the wonderful Joe Williams didn't ice the cake with the Basie band, but it is plain to hear how Sinatra's ability to swing jumped up a few rungs when backed by The Count. Truly a magical combination.

Peter Sokolowski

Too bad the trombone clam on "Pennies from Heaven" hasn't been excised by this new remaster. Seems like with today's technology they could.

Will Friedwald is exactly correct when he says that the first album is Sinatra on Basie's turf and the second is Basie visiting Sinatraland -- complete with strings and the whiff-of-desperation repertoire poaching other people's hits that makes up so much of the 60s Reprise catalog. "Fly Me to the Moon" and "The Best is Yet to Come" are eternal Sinatra classics, however.

Basie and Sinatra did appear at Newport together in '65. I can't believe that Reprise didn't record it -- something to look forward to?

The beautifully filmed black & white concert in St. Louis is out on DVD -- fantastic performance.


The pianist on the above bootleg run-through IS in fact Basie. Bill Miller (Suntan Charlie) plays on the officially released take and while he imitates the piano style of Basie, he would never make piano licks or block-chords as those on this bootleg run-through.
On the live album "at the Sands" Miller and Basie share the piano duties. For instance, Basie is on Come Fly With Me, Fly Me To The Moon and Miller is on One For My Baby, Luck Be A Lady, I've Got A Crush On You etc.

Bruno Leicht

One more proof for "Ol' Blue Eyes" Frank Sinatra being a complete musician with very big ears. What a voice, what a style & phrasing. Wow! -- Not to forget Harry 'Sweets' Edison with his inimitable muted trumpet inserts: How sensitive, and musical.

As for a very interesting comparison, listen to Abbey Lincoln, accompanied by Kenny Dorham, and Sonny Rollins on "That's Him", or to Sonny's "Tour De Force" album from 1956, how he backed Earl Coleman's vocals:

Outstanding, but of course much jazzier than Basie with Sinatra.

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  • Marc Myers writes regularly for The Wall Street Journal and is author of "Anatomy of a Song" (Grove) and "Why Jazz Happened." Founded in 2007, JazzWax is a two-time winner of the Jazz Journalists Association's best blog award.

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