Jazz Vocals

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Swagger & Good Cheer

16 SEP 11 ANNE FARNSWORTH

In 1961, Frank Sinatra released Ring-A-Ding Ding!, the debut album of his own label, Reprise. Full of swagger and good cheer, Ring-A-Ding Ding! is vintage Sinatra and it was recently reissued in a 50th anniversary edition with remastering and bonus tracks.

The spirit of the early-'60s is distilled here, from the jaunty tilt of Sinatra's fedora on the cover to the confident swing of the tunes. With end of the Eisenhower '50s, conservative mores were being abandoned. Sinatra's confidence and the male-bonding joie de vivre that would morph into the Rat Pack ethos perfectly mirrored this zeitgeist.

Sinatra never dealt with anything less than the best songwriters and this release is no exception. The composers that became the backbone of the American Songbook repertoire -- Gershwin, Berlin, Porter, Kern and Fields -- are all represented with their best-loved works, like "A Foggy Day," "Let's Face The Music And Dance" and "A Fine Romance." The writing team of Jimmy Van Heusen and Sammy Cahn wrote the title song especially for this session and Sinatra's long-time collaborator, Johnny Mandel, wrote the arrangements.

Sinatra wanted this album to contain only uptempo music, no ballads. There's a funny bit of backstage business on one of the bonus tracks during a mellow outtake of "Have You Met Miss Jones," where he chides Mandel with "this sounds like a different album" and "you sure you got the right arrangement up?" The orchestra moves through the intro only to peter out when Sinatra doesn't come in. Seems he was studying the score, questioning the placement of an A flat in the melody. Nothing slid by The Chairman.