One For My Baby (And One More For The Road)
Curtis Stigers - Vocals
The Danish Radio Big Band
Singer, songwriter, saxophonist and guitar player, Curtis Stigers,
first made his mark in the early 1990s with chart appearances
in the UK, USA and beyond, with songs such as I Wonder Why
and You're All That Matters To Me. Since then,
he has evolved into an established front-ranker among male jazz-oriented
vocalists, alongside Kurt Elling, Gregory Porter and company.
Nevertheless, it can be argued that Stigers and the Danish Radio
Big Band have taken on a considerable challenge here. This album,
recorded in the DR Koncerthuset in Copenhagen, before a live audience,
seeks to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of the recording,
Sinatra At The Sands, where Frank Sinatra was accompanied
by the Count Basie Orchestra, conducted by Quincy Jones. The original
was a double album comprising eighteen tracks whereas this tribute
offers only ten, seven of which were on the Sands playlist. Given
that the Las Vegas hotel and casino date in 1965 (the
disc was actually released the following year) is widely regarded
as a classic among Sinatra's handful of live recordings, the scale
of this new undertaking is apparent.
From Sinatra's early days with the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra, he
learned a great deal about jazz phrasing and about controlling
the breath. His development was to continue to the point where
he became the pre-eminent singer of popular music of the twentieth
century. The Basie Band are in the pantheon of great jazz orchestras.
Arranger, composer, conductor and record producer, Quincy Jones
is also a revered figure. At one level, then, Stigers and the
band were on a hiding to nothing. Certainly, Stigers is a more
hard-edged vocalist than Ol' Blue Eyes and offers less light and
shade. He does have a winning way, however, especially on ballads
such as Don't Worry 'Bout Me and One For My Baby.
As the saying has it, though, 'comparisons are odious'. This seems
to have been, judging from the response of an appreciative audience,
a completely enjoyable romp through superb material, with quality
arrangements complemented by high standards of musicianship.
I've already referred approvingly to two ballads. Summer
Wind and They Can't Take That Away from Me are in
similar vein, each gently swinging, the latter in particular producing
an enthusiastic endorsement from the listeners, as does The
Lady Is A Tramp. The band contribute a real sense of attack
to numbers like Come Fly With Me andFly Me To The
Moon. That paean to the city of Chicago, My Kind Of Town,
is delivered with punch and panache by Stigers and the musicians.
I've Got You Under My Skin is instantly recognisable.
The arrangement, as on the Sands album, is based on the
Nelson Riddle original, although it is missing the rasping Milt
Bernhart trombone input which so distinguished the earliest version.
Still, this latest effort retains some of the excitement of that
The album, then, has plenty to commend it, especially to Curtis
Stigers fans (and there are many) and to those who enjoy a vibrant
big band sound. The only draw back is the brevity of the album,
at less than thirty-five minutes. It's a pity that more of the
Sands playlist wasn't included. I'd have loved to hear whatThe
Shadow Of Your Smile, Angel Eyes or Where Or
When would sound like from these musicians. Of course, the
recollection of these songs may send the listener back to the
musical legacy of Francis Albert himself.