Subversive Seduction: Sinatra and Jobim’s Complete Reprise Recordings

Sinatra/Jobim
The Complete Reprise Recordings
Concord

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The pairing of the Chairman of the Board and the quiet boy from Brazil may have been a curious one on paper, but when Sinatra and Jobim recorded Francis Albert Sinatra & Antonio Carlos Jobim in 1967, the results were decidedly miraculous.

Time has not only been kind to the ten songs that make up the album, not eroding their majesty one bit, it has revealed all these years later that this is perhaps one of the most elegant recordings of the last fifty years. The compositions may mostly be Jobim’s, but Sinatra saunters through them as if they were his all along. The perfect foil for the aging crooner, Jobim’s finesse and musical precision give Sinatra ample room to wander in and help reveal the singer’s great strengths. In fact, his pauses on “The Girl From Ipanema” his masculine glissades on “Quiet Nights Of Quiet Stars (Corcovado) and his his gentle glide on “Dindi” showcase that not only was Sinatra perhaps the greatest phraser of all time, he was also a master interpreter, understanding a song from the inside out. His take on Irving Berlin’s “Change Partners” is subversively seductive, while the many layers of Cole Porter’s “I Concentrate On You” he peels beautifully open.

The back half of this compilation contains the entire Sinatra-scrapped second album, set to be titled Sinatra/Jobim. Recorded in 1969, all didn’t go as smoothly as the first and Sinatra’s dissatisfaction (he thought some of the songs sounded “off”) prompted him to reportedly order executives to “kill the album.” Available for the first time in its entirety, Sinatra/Jobim, is a worthy follow up to the first. “The Song Of The Sabia,” “Someone To Light Up My Life” and “Triste” are particularly winning, while “One Note Samba (Samba de Uma Nota So)” is positively breathtaking. The numbers that made Sinatra uncomfortable–most notably the utterly lovely “Bonita”–might have been scrapped prematurely, as they finish these proceedings in fine fashion.

Either way, these two albums make it clear that Sinatra understood Bossa Nova and Bossa Nova understood Sinatra.

The two should have not taken leave of each other so soon.