VOICES Notes and news on Jazz Vocals releases
30 NOV 11 JOHN C. BRUENING
Ask a dozen people over 45 to list the top ten entertainers of the 20th century, and it's a good bet that either Frank Sinatra or Count Basie (and probably both) will show up more than a couple times. Given their respective reputations, both then and now, imagine if the two had recorded together. Truth be told, they did. Three times, to be exact. And their first two albums are gathered in a single collection, The Complete Sinatra-Basie Reprise Studio Recordings. The 20-song package is digitally restored and remastered, and supplemented by brand new liner notes from noted music historian Bill Dahl.
The first of the albums, simply titled Sinatra-Basie, was released in 1963 on Sinatra's own Reprise label. The second, It Might As Well Be Spring, followed a year later. Both releases charted high, which should come as no surprise. But more importantly, they document the synergistic collaboration of two of America's great musical innovators.
And if these two hugely popular frontmen weren't enough talent already, keep in mind that both albums were arranged by Neal Hefti, and the latter was produced by Quincy Jones. The all-star quality shines through in every track, from the whimsical "Pennies From Heaven" to the effervescent "I'm Gonna Sit Right Down And Write Myself a Letter" to the rousing "Hello Dolly!" and "The Good Life."
Experienced as a whole, the first two recordings by Sinatra and Basie represent a singular convergence of unmatched talent and showmanship "This was musical history in the making, as fabulously fresh and frisky now as it was back then" says Dahl in his notes. "Let the swinging commence."