In 1962 and 1964, Frank Sinatra teamed with bandleader Count Basie for two recordings that would be considered some of the best work for both performers. The initial recording was titled “Sinatra-Basie: An Historic Musical First,” and featured tunes like “Pennies from Heaven” and “I Only Have Eyes for You.” The second time around, the duo enlisted a young Quincy Jones, who arranged the music in tunes that would ultimately become Sinatra staples such as “Fly Me To The Moon” and “I Wish You Love.”
The two albums have now been combined in “The Complete Reprise Studio Recordings” on the Concord label, which also reissued Ol’ Blue Eyes’ collaborations with Antonio Carlos Jobim in 2010.
It wasn’t the first time Basie worked with a white singer. A few years earlier he had toured and recorded with Tony Bennett (including an appearance at Carnegie Hall), and he had also appeared with Fred Astaire on a TV show. The choice of songs on the second half seems to reflect this—toward the end of the disc we encounter Sinatra’s take on “I Wanna Be Around” and “The Good Life,” two tunes better associated with Bennett. The two versions are significantly different—while Bennett sings more nuanced notes, Sinatra swings it more thanks to the presence of Basie’s big band behind him. The remaster is gorgeous—you hear the instruments very clearly (they were a bit muddy in the original mix), and Sinatra’s voice stands out without suppressing the musicians’ sounds. There is also a new insightful interview with Quincy Jones where he details the process of making the second half of the disc. It is a timeless record that deserves to be heard again and again. Now we look forward for the rerelease of “Sinatra at The Sands,” a live recording made with the same band. (Ernest Barteldes)
Frank Sinatra/Count Basie
The Complete Reprise Studio Recordings