Jazz Vocals

Honoring The Chairman

24 OCT 08 ANNE FARNSWORTH

Michael Feinstein continues his love affair with the American Songbook in his latest release The Sinatra Project. Informed by Feinstein's research, the collection covers decades of The Chairman's repertoire, adding little-known verses and additional lyrics.

Feinstein knows his American popular song history. Early in his career, he helped Ira Gershwin catalog his extensive record collection. He spoke personally to Sinatra about his song choices. As on all his records, his notes add historical perspective to the material.

But we don't buy records for their scholarship, we listen because it's quality music performed by exceptional artists. Feinstein's supple tenor recalls a young Sinatra but he's smart enough to pay homage without imitation. At times, his upper register hints at Johnny Mathis.

Recorded with full orchestra at Sinatra's old haunt, Hollywood's Capitol Records Studio A, producer and arranger Bill Elliott set the entire orchestra in one large room, after the fashion of 50 years ago. The results are revelatory, a trip down memory lane enhanced by the technical innovations of today.

Just as Nelson Riddle's orchestra and arrangements held nearly equal billing with Sinatra's voice, Elliott's work here is outstanding. Expansive and lush on the ballads, his rhythmic detours on the uptempo tunes add an element of surprise and excitement. Pink Martini, also known for their faithful reinventions of '40s-era standards, joins Feinstein on the Latin ballad, "How Long Will It Last."

Whether you're old enough to remember Sinatra's early years or eager to experience the era for the first time, The Sinatra Project will delight, satisfy and never grow old.