Since September 2010, this blog has recorded the journey of this middle-aged man as I attempt to listen to all the music in my CD collection. CDs revisited in their entirety from start to finish - no skipping tracks, no shuffle. CDs only - no vinyl, no tapes, no downloads. And just as CD technology (and the album format itself) becomes obsolete. I'm no music critic, just a music junkie with too much time on my hands.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Frank Sinatra - Sinatra at the Sands (1966)


Recorded in Las Vegas, January 26-February 1, 1966.

"It's Frank's world. We're just lucky to be living in it." - Dean Martin

Originally released only months after my birth, this CD represents the collaboration of a 'perfect storm' of musicians: Sinatra, Count Basie, and Quincy Jones. And in '60s Vegas, no less! This was one of the first CDs I ever purchased and I still consider it one of my top five favorite live albums of all time. Basie's band is cookin', Q's arrangements are without peer, and Sinatra is, well, Sinatra. It's all here: hip, up-tempo, wailing, standards, ballads, and cheesy Vegas stage chatter.

Peak on the US Billboard Top 200 chart: #9

Tracks: You know you're in for a treat from the moment Sinatra takes the stage and asks, "How did all these people get in my room?" then launches into the definitive interpretation of Come Fly With Me. Other favorites include I've Got You Under My Skin, You Make Me Feel So Young, Get Me To the Church On Time, Where Or When, and My Kind Of Town. Basie's band gets a turn with a few instrumentals: One O'Clock Jump, All of Me, and Makin' Whoopee! These are all first rate, as you would expect. If I had to pick a favorite Sinatra cut, it would probably be Fly Me To The Moon (In Other Words) and the version here is incredible. In fact, listening to it right now, I've hit the 'back' button on the player so I can hear it again before moving on. Epic. Classic. If there is any downside to the CD, it is the 12 minute monologue/stand-up act that appears halfway through the set. Much of the humor is dated (and/or wasn't funny to begin with) and seems insensitive today, but I appreciate that he gives the band a brief break from playing.

Personal Memory Associated with this CD: During the 1989-90 school year, I was responsible for teaching a high school jazz band. This particular group couldn't keep a slow tempo. So when I tried an arrangement of Georgia On My Mind, they sped it up every time. I was willing to try anything to get the group to play on the backside of the beat. One day, I played them Basie's version of Makin' Whoopee! from this disc to illustrate what I was looking for. While it was a good idea, it didn't really work. When the band finished playing the song at a concert, my good friend Eddie turned to my wife and said, "I know he's glad that's over." Which was true.

I had the opportunity to see Sinatra in Dallas in April, 1990. With tickets starting at $50, I just couldn't afford it then. Now I realize I should have taken out a loan.

Finally, I can't hear Basie's band without thinking of the classic scene in the 1974 movie Blazing Saddles where the orchestra, performing April In Paris, suddenly appears as Bart rides across the prairie.

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