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Reviewers: Don Mather, Tony Augarde, Dick Stafford, John Eyles, Robert Gibson, Ian Lace, Colin Clarke, Jack Ashby



Dear Mr Sinatra

Telarc CD 83638


1. Ring-a-Ding Ding
2. You Make Me Feel So Young
3. How About You?
4. If I Had You
5. Witchcraft
6. I've Got You Under My Skin
7. Nice ‘n’ Easy
8. Medley: I See Your Face Before Me / In The Wee Small Hours Of The Morning
9. Can't We Be Friends?
10. Yes Sir, That's My Baby
11. Last Dance
John Pizzarelli – Vocals, guitar
John Clayton – Conductor, bass
Jeff Hamilton - Drums
Jeff Clayton, Keith Fiddmont – Alto sax, clarinet
Rickey Woodard, Charles Owens - Tenor sax, clarinet
Lee Callet - Baritone sax, bass clarinet
Bijon Watson, Sal Cracchiolo, Gilbert Castellanos, Bobby Rodriguez, James Ford – Trumpets
Ira Nepus, George Bohanon, Ryan Porter – Trombones
Robbie Hioki, Maurice Spears – Bass trombones
Tamir Hendelman – Piano
Christoph Luty – Bass
John "Bucky" Pizzarelli - Guitar

If you put two of my favourite acts together, I am bound to be pleased. And most listeners will share my pleasure at this CD, on which singing guitarist John Pizzarelli is accompanied by the Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra. Mind you, one might be daunted by the prospect of yet another album rerunning songs associated with Frank Sinatra. The world already seems more than crowded with tributes to Ol’ Blue Eyes and his Rat Pack. But Pizzarelli is a notably sensitive singer, and the Clayton-Hamilton Orchestra is by no means your run-of-the-mill big band. In fact John Clayton’s arrangements usually find something new in the most hackneyed of material. For example, contrast his muscular big-band backing on Yes Sir, That’s My Baby with the restrained accompaniment he supplies for Can’t We be Friends?

John Pizzarelli’s appreciation of Frank Sinatra is evident – after all, in the early 1990s he was the opening act for Sinatra, while his Dad (Bucky Pizzarelli – who can be heard on Can’t We Be Friends) played on many Sinatra recordings. But the album avoids any temptation to reproduce the Sinatra sound: a wise move with such a unique artist. And John adds his own trademark guitar (often along with scatting) to spice things up.

John also gets away from the familiar Sinatra by singing some new lyrics to Nice ‘n’ Easy and performing a splendid Quincy Jones arrangement of In the Wee Small Hours which Sinatra never recorded. So-called tributes often turn out to be insults but this album pays affectionate tribute to Sinatra without descending into slavish imitation.

Tony Augarde


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