Recent listening, current

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

115. Joe Lovano / Celebrating Sinatra (1997)

Joe Lovano here performs his version of the Great American Songbook by interpreting one of his more powerful muses, Frank Sinatra. I read Lovano's single page in the accompanying booklet and I can't disagree with him. Sinatra was consistently great for the duration of his career, and exerted a powerful influence on succeeding generations of musicians. The effect continues and this 1997 album is a prime example. As Lovano and crew cut through classics like "I've Got the World on a String," "In Other Words," or "Someone to Watch Over Me," they meld modern sensibilities and at least five decades of stylistic development in jazz with Sinatra's timeless swing. It's a natural setting for Lovano, like balm for the soul. He grew up with Frankie playing all around him, and it immediately conjures memories of his home and family, notably his Aunt Rose Verzi. A Sinatra devotee who saw him in person hundreds of times, she sounds pretty cool! Lovano was certainly taken by his auntie. His ballad work bubbles with ideas and earnest sentiment. The arrangements and orchestration aren't just tasteful, they're clever, too, as in the aforementioned "String" where Lovano weaves in and out with the cello to make a play on the lyrics in the song. Or the wild and nasty group sections culminating at the end of "One for My Baby." During "South of the Border," Lovano lets George Mraz have the first chorus, giving a new context for Lovano's solo to emerge in, instead of jumping right off the melody. The result is really fresh. Every track is as good as the next, so hats off to Joe Lovano for indulging his passion and recording this set of Sinatra staples. As with other Lovano records, it stands up heartily to repeat listening.

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