12 feb. 2007

Sinatra's notorious "phrasing" was at the high point in the Nelson Riddle period ("Song for Young Lovers," "In the Wee Small Hours of the Night"). The Vegas period, when he began to loosen up his phrasing even more, adding extra words to the lines of a lyric, becomes too "mannered." Those mannerisms inspired every bad retro faux Sinatra singer since. What's great about the Nelson Riddle era albums is that they are almost straight--but not quite. The jazz dimension is not exaggerated. Yet the phrasing departs just enough from the expected pattern to be cool, swinging, and tasteful. Very slight hesitations or accelerandos are very effective. After Vegas he just camped it up intolerably, and kept on doing it for years afterwards. I don't think he ever recovered. When you extend that pause just a little more, then it become an "effect," a mannerism, a ghastly portamento.

As for NR himself, I will never actively *like* those arrangements. I think they are fitting, historically appropriate and all that. They conger up a period and a definite ambience. They are relatively tasteful, for that period, but they are too much of their period, for me, whereas Frank's singing on them is more timeless, purer in a way. (Though usually it is easier to achieve that effect of purity in instrumentals rather than in vocals.)

I remember variety shows when I was a kid with awful singers like Perry Como and Sammy Davis, or groups like the King Family. Into the early seventies they still had that awful music on t.v. a lot.

3 comentarios:

Jordan dijo...

I remember those specials too. Later vintage figures like Bobby Vinton were getting in on the act by the time I started watching.

Perry Como's worth a second look -- not for his singing, which I can't fault except for being mainly so middle-of-the-road as to sound uninspired, but for his weird, para-scat lyrics -- "Chi-baba, chi-baba, chihuahua..."

Glenn Ingersoll dijo...

Conger? You mean, like a Conger Eel? They wriggle ... they wriggle up? The wriggle up a period in which ... hm ... doesn't quite seem to work.

Unless you mean conjure.

Jonathan dijo...

A classic malapropism. It looked wrong to me when I typed it but i wasn't quite sure why.