Frank Sinatra – Sinatra At the Sands

Sinatra at the Sands

Frank Sinatra With Count Basie & The OrchestraSinatra At the Sands Reprise 2F 1019 (1966)

Sinatra with Count Basie, arranged by Quincy Jones — what’s not to like?  Well, for starters, Sinatra was starting to sound a little sluggish in his vocals, and the Basie Orchestra was kind of an anachronism by the 1960s.  This is music from Sinatra the institution, and as such lumbers along in adherence to a formula that leaves little room for spontaneity or individualism.  The song selection pares away the more youthful love songs in favor of quite a few about longetivity and nostalgia.  Still, even if this represents the artist past their prime, it still beats most of the lounge concert records that Broadway singers without any swing released in this era.  Not a great one, but fans will get reasonable enjoyment from it.

Count Basie – The Complete Decca Recordings

The Complete Decca Recordings

Count BasieThe Complete Decca Recordings GRP GRD-3-611 (1992)

Good stuff, of course, though I could do without some of the tracks, mostly cuts with vocalists that bore me.  For a more potent distillation of what you find here, I heartily recommend The Best of Early Basie.  If you want a full overview of the kings of the swing era big bands, try Fletcher Henderson‘s Wrappin’ It Up, Ellington‘s The Blanton-Webster Band (reissued as Never No Lament: The Blanton-Webster Band) and the aforementioned The Best of Early Basie.  From there, you can check out Benny Goodman, Lionel Hampton, Teddy Wilson, Jimmie Lunceford, Jay McShann, Artie Shaw, Woody Herman, Glenn Miller, you name it.