Thursday, August 7, 2014

Frank Sinatra: In the Wee Small Hours

Prior to the meteoric rise of Elvis Presley and rock and roll, Frank Sinatra was the biggest male singing phenomenon that popular music had ever seen. Sinatra’s rise to prominence was accompanied by the same female hysteria that would be heard with the rise of Presley and The Beatles in later decades.

Sinatra was born in Hoboken, New Jersey in 1915. He got his start as a big band jazz vocalist with the Harry James Orchestra in 1939. His first recording with James was “From the Bottom of My Heart.” Sinatra would stay with James for about one year and record other sides such as “Here Comes the Night” and “My Buddy.” In 1940, Tommy Dorsey lured Sinatra away from James, and it was with Dorsey that Sinatra would find stardom. Sinatra’s first recording with Dorsey was, “The Sky Fell Down.” Sinatra would stay with Dorsey for five years and record dozens of hit singles including, “Stardust,” “It’s Always You,” “Blue Skies,” and “Embraceable You.”

By the time Sinatra left the Dorsey Orchestra, he was already a pop star and was ready to move on to recordings and performances with himself getting top billing. Sinatra continued to record scads of hit songs throughout the mid-late Forties and early Fifties and branch out as an entertainer by acting in movies. He eventually formed the infamous “rat pack” with show business cronies, Sammy Davis Jr. and Dean Martin.

By the mid-Fifties, when rock and roll was beginning to replace swing and vocal jazz as America’s new pop music, Sinatra openly railed against the new music for being primitive and crude causing Elvis Presley to publically express his dismay at the comments.

Sinatra would begin to record his own albums in 1945, with his first notable effort being “The Voice of Frank Sinatra” (1946) on Columbia Records with The Nelson Riddle Orchestra. Several albums would follow, and then in 1954, Sinatra would record his first

classic album, “Songs for Young Lovers” The following year Sinatra would record the album that is generally cited as his masterpiece, “In the Wee Small Hours” in which Sinatra delivers sixteen songs of heartbreak in inimitable style.

Numerous other essential albums would follow for the next twenty years with the best being, “Songs for Swingin’ Lovers!” (1956), “A Swingin’ Affair” (1957), “Frank Sinatra Sings for Only the Lonely” (1958), “September of My Years” (1965), and “Sinatra at the Sands” (1966).
Sinatra on the town