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Thread: Your favorite Sinatra orchestra pairing?

  1. #1
    C.R.E.'s Avatar
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    Your favorite Sinatra orchestra pairing?

    I am curious to hear what others feel to be the best orchestra to play with Frank Sinatra overall.......(Either concerts or recordings) and arrangements....

    Personally, I lean towards Riddle arrangements or Basie.

    How bout y'all?
    Christopher

  2. #2
    Duncan's Avatar
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    Billy May

    I think Billy May has probably done most of my favourite arrangements, and Don Costa. Billy Byers is another of my favourites, they are all fantastic!!
    ...said Duncan

  3. #3
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    You are right, there Duncan! They are all great........
    Christopher

  4. #4
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    Whoever did "Lady . . . Tramp" ('79?)

    I nominate that performance from (I believe) 1979 (in NYC?) with whatever-the-heck-band plays that amazing, kick- *ss arrangement by Billy Byers (who is he? what instrument did HE play?) of "Lady is a Tramp." The only version I've heard is the one on 'Disc 4' in the 4-CD Reprise box set. That's when I realized just how much I missed, never seeing him perform "live and in concert. "

    If I'm right about the year (1979) then a super-tight band and a terrific vocal performance was about ten years beyond what I previously thought was his "last great singing year."

    And despite the fact I can list off the top of my head all the other great arrangers Frank ever worked with (and I'd never previously, heard of Billy Byers) I'd have to say that performance---and arrangement---is tops at least for that signature song of his. It's another reminder of something one of the musicians is quoted as saying (in a recent biography) to the effect that performing live with Sinatra "brought out the best in the band---every time" i.e. they "rose to the occasion" and gave it their all. Apparently he expected their best, and wouldn't accept anything less. Does it ever show up on that track. What's it from? And who was leading that band I wonder?

    Mark B
    Winnipeg

  5. #5
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    "Pancho Villa"?!

    79.....Lady is a Tramp....? hmm...I am not 100% sure I have heard that version...not the 74 concert from Madison Square Garden?

    On the concert for americas in the Dominican Republic in 1982, Frank turns to the band and is announcing a song (I think it is definitely Lady is a Tramp) and he says "This next song is arranged by...uh.,...and Vinnie Falcone says to him 'Billy Byers'...and Frank says "ah..they don't know who Billy Byers is anyway " hahah...

    He also jokingly credits "pancho villa" for one of the songs later in the show.
    Christopher

  6. #6
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    Re: last great singing year

    Mark, I think that 1982 concert and the 1985 one from Japan are on par with some of his best stuff..........

    gets a little rougher by about 1988
    Christopher

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    hey guys

    Hello world
    I'm going to cast my vote for
    Nelson Riddle and Count Basie

    I have the two record lp of Sinatra at the Sands
    with Count basie that was a live recording
    excellant!!!!!!!!!!!

    regrads
    Frank
    Old Man Music
    Frank
    Old Man Music

  9. #9
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    You're right Chris!

    Just got home from work and checked the book that came with the 4-CD Reprise box-set, and you're right, Christopher R. Evans, about my favorite version of "Lady is a Tramp." According to the notes it was recorded October 13, 1974, New York City: "an exciting, live version from the televised Madison Square Garden 'Main Event' with a swinging (and at the time) new arrangement by Billy Byers."

    Now, can anyone tell me who was leading the band? Was it all East Coast musicians? Who was the drummer, I wonder? Also, is "Main Event" another, available CD I've just managed to miss?

    Thanks in advance for answers!

    Mark B
    Winnipeg

  10. #10
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    Mark

    The band, The Woody Herman Thundering Herd, was conducted by Bill Miller. The CD is "The Main Event", try to check at www.amazon.com . Dunno who the drummer is....
    Pedro

  11. #11
    Guest

    Has to be Nels!

    His arrangements were tailor fit and he choose excellent side-men (with Sinatra's input!).

    Would Sinatra have become the legend w/o Nelson? ....I doubt it.

  12. #12
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    My favourite pairing with Sinatra is Nelson Riddle. Yes they are all great (Stordahl, Riddle, May and Jenkins in particular), but Riddle's work transcends the others in my opinion, and it is simply amazing how absolutely fresh and timeless Nelson's charts for Sinatra still sound after almost half a century. And Riddle could capture Sinatra's swinging moods as perfect as the ballad side. The culmination of this pairing, for me, is "In The Wee Small Hours" (Capitol 1955), maybe the best album Sinatra has ever recorded.
    --
    Mark, re Billy Byers, he is a trombone player and did some arrangements for Sinatra as early as the mid-60s (e.g. "I Wish You Love" on the second Basie album, and "Where Or When" and "Street Of Dreams" as heard on the "Live At The Sands" album).

    He wrote his chart for "The Lady Is A Tramp" for Sinatra in 1974, and Sinatra introduced it during his July 1974 concerts in Australia, a tour on which Byers himself was in the orchestra as a trombonist.

    "The Main Event" was the label for a series of concerts Sinatra gave in October 1974 along the East coast, accompanied by Woody Herman & The Young Thundering Herd. The drummer on this tour was Frank's own regular drummer, Irv Cottler, who played for Sinatra for decades from the Capitol days until his death in August 1989. Additional percussion on the "Main Event" comes from David Carey.

    The 10-13-74 "Main Event" concert at Madison Square Garden in NYC was televised live throughout the Western Hemisphere and has also been released by Warner on Video, Laserdisc and DVD. Reprise issued an LP (now also on CD) of that title in 1974, that is not the 10-13-74 concert but actually a compilation from several dates of the tour. The "Tramp" you hear on the album is from the 10-13-74 concert, though.

    Bernhard.

  13. #13
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    Excellent points, guys....

    Nelson really did take FS to the next level with his career at that point. I don't really think there is any other combination of singer and orchestra that could really compare...Basie a close second.

    So many other singers, of different genres have turned to a big band in order to rejuvenate, or at least continue their success in later years...

    The 1974 concert was a real comeback for Frank...even though the Ol' Blue Eyes is back (in 72..I believe) was the official comeback from retirement...many regard that concert as a milestone that reestablished Frank as the Chairman, and undesputed Champ.

    My personal favorite from that album: Autumn in NY
    Christopher

  14. #14
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    The best team in Pop Music History

    Nelson Smock Riddle (1921-1985) and THE MAN.

  15. #15
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    That picture is awesome. I would love to have that one framed....I don't think my fiancee will approve of anymore of my 'frivolous' sinatra picture purchases

    I have been told that once we get married and buy a new home in 2005, all my Sinatra, Rat Pack, and Pittsburgh Steeler memorabila will be banished (along with me) to the basement or den. hahah just kidding
    Christopher

  16. #16
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    Oh yeah, Riddle's the man! He brought out that swinging side of Frank that really works for me!

    But, sometimes I find myself in a mood for Jenkins, or Mays, or Basie... or Quincy! Frank worked with so many great conductors.

    and I have to say, Axel Stordhal's DAY IN, DAY OUT never fails to blow me away. First time I heard Frank's version with Stordahl of this song, I must have hit that "replay" button I don't know how many times. I just love that song, and particularly that version. Very dramatic.

  17. #17
    Paolo's Avatar
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    Cool Great arrangers, to me.....

    Billy May , Nelson Riddle, Don costa. Yours, Paolo.
    Come Rain or Come Shine.....
    Paolo

  18. #18
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    Smile My view

    Hi Gang, My choice is Count Bassie, and Nelson Riddle.
    LEATRICE (LEE) Fort Myers, Florida, USA
    Sinatra, Sinatra,Sinatra! Pray for Robin!

  19. #19
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    Riddle !

    I agree, Bernhard. It's Riddle at the top and that's not to knock the other great ones - May, Costa, Stordahl, et al. Mr. Stordahl is very under appreciated. Those great Columbia ballads would be lesser creations without the Stordahl brilliance. They're far ahead of any of Frank's other Columbia collaberators.

    I'll never forget the first time I heard "I've Got the World on a String" which was the first Sinatra-Riddle teamup. The Riddle music fine tuned the new, tougher, sexier Sinatra sound he intro'd a few months earlier with "Birth of the Blues."

    That was followed by so many great Sinatra-Riddle recordings. To name just a few: "Swing Easy,""Wee Small Hours,""Swingin' Lovers,""Only the Lonely," "The Concert Sinatra," et al.

    Ed S.

  20. #20
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    World On A String!

    Yes Ed - only in a few months time, that Sinatra-Riddle recording of "String" will see its 50th anniversary. Now that's FIFTY years and it hasn't aged, or grown dated, one single bit! That's class. Sinatra and Riddle, they still have on their string the world of all serious music lovers.

    Bernhard.

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