Saturday, November 7, 2015

When Sinatra is a project

A couple of years back, I read a book written by Michael Feinstein called “The Gershwins and Me”. The Wall Street Journal had a review of it and it sounded interesting and so I learned about Feinstein, who I’d never heard of prior to that. Turns out that was a gap in my jazz and music knowledge that I finally filled. Now Mr. Feinstein is traveling the country with his “Sinatra Project”, which is basically a tribute concert to Frank Sinatra to celebrate his one hundredth birthday (December 12). So, to Nashville did Mrs. S and I go, to see Mr. Feinstein in person and enjoy an evening of Frank Sinatra hits.
Feinstein in Primary Colors: Yellow 
Mr. Feinstein is a fascinating performer. He’s very straightforward, almost like a club act, but there’s lot of audience interaction. He asks a lot of trivia questions and he explains a lot about the songs, the song writers, and the approaches that Frank took to some of the songs. For instance, I didn’t know that Frank Sinatra recorded 88 of Sammy Cahn’s songs. I also didn’t know that Sinatra didn’t professionally sing the song, “What Kind of Fool Am I?” because he didn’t think he could do the song justice. He said, he knew somebody who could, though, and told fellow Ratpacker Sammy Davis Jr. to record it. It went on to become his greatest hit. (Mr. Feinstein did a fine version of it as well.)
Feinstein in Primary Colors: Red 
For a few songs, Mr. Feinstein performed on the piano, doing a great boogie-woogie imitation a la Liberace, complete with voices and, shall we say, “Flamboyance”? And the Nashville symphony not only performed with their usual panache and sensibility, but they also broke out the horn and rhythm sections to do their best impression of a 17-piece jazz orchestra. And I’ll tell you what, those horn players can blow. It’s like they’ve got the symphony to pay the bills, but they’re really jazz musicians at heart.
Feinstein in Primary Colors: Blue 
My only complaint is that the Nashville Symphony needs to get their signals straight on whether photography is permitted or not and what sort of devices are acceptable or not. The usher in our (front and center, thank you very much) section said we could take pictures all we wanted, as long as we didn’t shoot video, record sound, or use flash. So of course, Mrs. S went hog wild taking pictures. Then as we’re going back to our seats after intermission, an usher in the upper section stopped her and asked her about her “professional” camera. We basically said, don’t be dumb lady, but between that, and the other usher, and the “Photography permitted while house lights are up” statement on the tickets, it’s all very confusing. And don’t get me started about the idiots with their phone flashing and shooting in the balconies above the stage.
Feinstein in Primary Colors (Variation): Sedensky in White Jack O'Lantern Motif
Still, it was a pleasure to see Mr. Feinstein in concert, to hear some of his fascinating stories, and to hear the immortal music made famous by Frank Sinatra. I’d come fly with Feinstein again, anytime.