Francis Albert Sinatra & Antonio Carlos Jobim
Sinatra, Frank and Antonio Carlos Jobim
Ol' Blue Eyes Meets the Picasso of Bossa Nova
Frank Sinatra founded Reprise Records in 1960 because he wanted to call his own shots. During the label's first few years, a period when he was also recording for Capitol to finish his contract there, he surrounded himself with great talents, and cultivated an atmosphere of anything-goes artistic collaboration. In addition to the hard-swinging records with the Count Basie Orchestra (Sinatra/Basie and Sinatra at the Sands being the most famous), Sinatra spear-headed a thoughtful meeting with Duke Ellington (Francis A. & Edward K.), and had a hit duet with his daughter Nancy, "Something Stupid."
Francis Albert Sinatra & Antonio Carlos Jobim is easily the most astounding of these gatherings, and one of the absolute high points of the 1960s. Sinatra might have come late to bossa nova— the Stan Getz/João Gilberto (see p. 308) phenomenon happened in 1963, and this wasn't issued until '67—but he threw himself into it. Sinatra sneaks inside Jobim's fragile, lamenting lines, and makes himself right at home. As happens with so many of his vocal performances, Sinatra teases out the unstated emotions drifting behind the words and between the sea-grass backgrounds of arranger Claus Ogermann. Sinatra underplays so brilliantly he makes it seem as though the Brazilian composer, who's on guitar and sometimes vocals here, is the star of the show.
And in one sense Jobim is the star—his regal music challenges singers like no other music does. You can tell the singer was completely absorbed in the composer's ethos by the way he interprets several pieces not written by Jobim, including "I Concentrate on You." These utilize sullen, hotel-lounge bossa beats, and Sinatra reframes their melodies to conform to his collaborator's singular languidness. By the time he's finished, he's morphed them into Jobim tunes—no small feat.
Released: 1967, Reprise
Key Tracks: "Corcovado," "How Insensitive," "I Concentrate on You"
Catalog Choice: Sinatra/Basie.
Next Stop: Sarah Vaughan: Brazilian Romance
After That: Cannonball Adderley: Cannonball's Bossa Nova.
Book Pages: 708–709