Sinatra Nothing But The Best Rar
So, using the tools of the digital age, the producer selected some of Mr. S's best masters from this period and polished them to a new patina, lifting his voice so you can hear it with more clarity and warmth. Then, some world-class musicians have been brought in to play the same charts, note for note, as were on the original orchestrations -- only this time in STEREO.
Sinatra Nothing But The Best Rar
I agree with you on "One For My Baby," it's definitely one of his best songs. There's a great version of it on the "Capitol Years" 3-CD boxed set that's recorded with just Sinatra and pianist Bill Miller. It's beautiful. And there's lot of good live recordings of it too. I have seen The Rat Pack movie with Ray Liotta, I really enjoyed it, though it's been a while since I've seen it. I love the scene where he takes a sledgehammer to the heliport when Lawford tells him JFK isn't coming-which apparently really happened. Anything Sinatra recorded between 1953 and 1969 is absolutely amazing. Some of my favorites are the bossa nova albums he did with Antonio Carlos Jobim, and a 1959 live date in Australia with the Red Norvo Quintet-it's some of his jazziest singing. There's also a lovely 1962 live date from Paris that's outstanding.
Duke Ellington discovered and recorded pianist-composer Dollar Brand aka Abdullah Ibrahim in 1963 playing in a more or less conventional jazz manner, but it took a long time for the South African township music he evolved in the 1970s to be accepted outside of Africa. This album was one of the very first to be made in America and its impact was immense, its melodicism, warmth and simplicity brought something new and refreshing to the often overheated, testosterone-filled gladiatorial pit of small group improvising to established harmonic patterns. As Jelly Roll Morton had shown 50 years earlier, sometimes the best comes from a truly group effort. (KS)
Tomorrow, in Part 2 of my three-part conversation with Russ, the legendary arranger talks about trumpeter Buddy Childers, vocalists Julie London and Anita O'Day, Louis Armstrong and Ella Fitzgerald (Porgy and Bess), how Louis learned Bess Oh Where's My Bess, Ella's backstage secret, Stan Getz's reaction when he saw the size of the orchestra for Cool Velvet, and the time of day when Russ does most of his best writing.
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DOCUMENTARY FILMSDirector: Stephen Kessler (2011)This documentary begins with the assumption that 1970s recording/acting sensation Paul Williams is dead. The director, Stephen Kessler, who grew up watching the diminutive (5'2") Williams on countless TV shows in that era, had a deep affection for Williams but hadn't seen or heard of him in years and so assumed he had "died too young". This extraordinary hole in Kessler's perception -- Paul Williams is very much alive and is the current President of the American Society of Composers and Performers (ASCAP) -- is really the linchpin of this entire, very funny, documentary. Kessler, who has produced and directed a couple feature films as well as numerous television commercials, is either afflicted with Aspergers syndrome, or he is a clever and sneaky comic genius, because much of what makes this train wreck of a documentary so fascinating is Kessler's inability (or unwillingness?) to recognize the highly professional Williams' lack of comfort with his documentarian's inability to create a strategy for telling Williams' story. Williams is a 20-plus years sober substance abuse patient, who lost his parents when he was very young, was brought from Nebraska to California to live with an aunt, and stood only 4'6" tall when he graduated from high school, which is all stuff Williams was willing to talk about, had Kessler picked up any of the signals, or have he had any handle on a narrative approach to the film. In the first part of documentary, Kessler is just sort of invading Williams' privacy by following him around with a camera. Kessler doesn't seem very interested in who Paul Williams is, or how he got to be who he is. In fact, Kessler's only real connection to Williams is that he idolized him as a kid and always imagined what it would be like to be his friend; or, more to the point, to have a "TV friend". An apparently lonely kid, Kessler grew up watching a lot of TV, and developed close attachments to those he saw on the screen. Watching Paul Williams negotiate Kessler's absurd amateurish behaviors would be uncomfortable viewing were Paul Williams not such an apparently nice person. In fact, he is kind, and the kindness he shows for Kessler tends to confirm everything that anybody who grew up watching him on television always sensed about him. Though Williams was a cocaine-sniffing party animal, who now cannot bare to watch himself in video of his 1970s television appearances, his fans heard his real self in those songs that he wrote and sang ("We've Only Just Begun", "Rainy Days and Mondays", "Rainbow Connection", and many others). Williams was not a good singer -- in fact, wrote corny songs that were anything but hip -- but his fans loved his courage, wit and bravado, particularly given his size. He was like all of us who loved him, the regular folks, the little people. Paul wasn't afraid of the world at all, at least not that we could see, so maybe being funny and upbeat would work for us, too! Those sentiments were what Queens-native Kessler apparently felt about Paul Williams, though Kessler's personal limitations are not his size, but his brain-dead personality. Williams, haltingly at first, puts up with Kessler, perhaps thinking that a documentary of his life and career could be pretty nice if only the person who had elected himself to do the film wasn't such an idiot. But then something happens. The two bond over a shared love of squid, and Williams starts to come alive to Kessler, and Kessler begins to relax with Williams. After being invaded by this guy with a camera for weeks, and obviously questioning himself for ever getting involved in this documentary in the first place, Paul Williams starts to like Stephen Kessler. Somehow this feels great to watch, because there is something about Paul Williams that makes you wish he was your friend, too, and before our eyes this dream starts to unfold for the oddly unworthy Stephen Kessler. Then again, Kessler may have been putting us on all along, doing a Stephen Colbert, portraying a character to create a certain atmosphere for his film. Whatever, the magic all comes from Williams, who rewards us with the revelation that he is better now than ever, happier than he has ever been at any time in his life, and he has utterly shed those aspects of his younger self that associated him so closely with a wild Hollywood lifestyle. More beautiful yet, where some triumph over addiction to become preachers, propagandists, and pontificators -- superior Buddhas of self-love -- Williams has sort of moved on. He is active in recovery support groups and apparently someone others can reach out to, but that isn't the vibe one gets from him. He has the keen intelligence and tolerances of a mature guy who has seen it all and has achieved a balanced grace. Kessler, whose references are all to Williams in his commercial heyday, seems to want to explore how Williams feels about not being a big star anymore, but Paul Williams is way more than that. By the end of this film, you not only adore Williams, but you come to sort of adore Stephen Kessler, for his naive innocence -- he is way too old to be naive or innocent -- and that he starts to seem like Williams' human pet, as if he is a dumb, loyal dog, just happy to be in his master's presence.(adsbygoogle = window.adsbygoogle ).push();Director: Mike Fleiss (2014)As a person who always hated the Grateful Dead, I sat to watch this Bob Weirdocumentary thinking maybe it would tell me something about Weir and that band he fronted that would finally reveal to me that special something about them that had previously been revealed to so many of their fans. The Grateful Dead's main claim to fame was that they had the most dedicated fans in show business; an army of gypsies who would follow the Dead from show-to-show, until finally they got to be a security problem for the cities the Dead played. To many an urban mayor, the Deadheads came to town like an infestation, or a drug-laden plague, until finally it became less and less easy to get permits for their shows. So what did these people see in the Grateful Dead? That the documentary makes a big deal out of young Bob Weir's appeal to girls says everything anyone would need to know about the overall appeal of the guys in the band. There was nothing really very special about Weir, other than that he was surrounded by some real dogs, so in contrast looked all the better. In fact, one could argue that this same dynamic played out in the sound of the band. This is a band that used two drummers, for no apparent reason, to produce a sound that even Weir and Garcia concede was never "current". The two came from the affluent communities of Atherton and Palo Alto, California, beginning their musical association in a jug band when Weir was still in high school. They morphed into a rock band, The Warlocks, played strip clubs in San Francisco and free concerts in Golden Gate Park -- you'll remember that this was in the Hippie Era circa 1967 -- before then becoming the Grateful Dead. From the beginning, they were hardly more than the soundtrack for a be-in. The crowd was more interesting than they were, though to the budding musicians among the legion of Dead fans Jerry Garcia ranks among the gods of the guitar, with Eric Clapton and the other "giants". Music giants are always hoisted up by listeners who don't really know anything about making music, and so it was for the Dead. This video features sections of Weir demonstrating chord changes on his guitar and any knowledgeable person will recognize immediately that Weir isn't much of a musician. Worse than that, he seems brain dead; a guy who couches all of his memories about his life as "an adventure", which is all he can seem to come up with. Some of those adventures included following under the spell ofKen Kesey's Merry Pranksters, and taking LSD every Saturday for a year. Weir seems to have a special admiration for the disastrous Neal Cassady, who is most well known for his association with Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, and later with the LSD "movement". Cassady was insane, likely suffering from a severe bipolar disorder that had him stuck on high, was occasionally imprisoned on drug charges, and functioned as the resident nut case for the inspiration of his "writerly" friends. Weir thought he was a genius, but then Weir was very young and impressionable, and possibly not terribly bright. Now, as a guy in his late sixties, he seems to function a little bit behind the beat, as if maybe all those sessions with mind expansion left him with some unrecovered spaces in his neural connectors. He comes across as more of a victim than as a fit subject for a documentary. Many biographical documentaries build their narrative around interviews with friends and associates, but Weir is pretty much on his own in this one, talking about himself. Sammy Hagar shows up at one point to sympathize with Weir's plight as the best looking guy in the band. That is actually the main thing I came away with from watching this documentary. Sammy Hagar was the best looking guy in some band? Really? Otherwise, everything about the Grateful Dead makes me feel kind of like I've been hanging out with Pig Pen.Director: Greg 'Freddy' Camalier (2013)Muscle Shoals is a documentary that traces the development, in the early 1960s, of little Muscle Shoals, Alabama into a Mecca for music recording, particularly Rhythm & Blues. It was an extraordinary feat that was accomplished through the sheer willpower of a tough hombre namedRick Hall, a local guy who foundedFAME studios. Hall grew up in impoverished conditions and with a nasty chip on his shoulder, and he became a club musician with a vision for a recording studio. He really blossomed as a producer because he had a natural sense for the feel and dynamic of each tune he recorded, and he was a tyrannical perfectionist, demanding take after take of tracks until he heard the sound that to him sounded like a hit. Hall did many extraordinary things, not the least of them being that he brought a group of white teenagers together as a tight studio band (The Swampers), whose swampy sound helped to break the previously listless career of youngAretha Franklin. Those kids can be heard on Franklin's seminal hits "Never Loved A Man" and "Respect". Hall, his studio and studio band, also breathed life into a young and cantankerousWilson Pickett. Hall's early successes with FAME studios brought him into contact with famed Columbia Records Producer Jerry Wexler, who would come to be a bitter rival of Halls and impact the entire rest of his professional life.Rick Hall was not an easy guy to work with, and the film traces The Swamper's departure from FAME studios to create a studio of their own, in Muscle Shoals, which would compete directly with Rick Hall's business. To Hall it was an act of war. He hired a whole new, largely black studio band, while The Swampers struggled to get traction with their new facility. Then the Rolling Stones came to town to work in the Swampers' studio, where they recorded "Wild Horses", "Brown Sugar" and two other tracks for their Sticky Fingers LP. An avalanche of big name recording stars recorded in the Muscle Shoals studios after that, and new ones were created, most notably The Allmann Brothers andLynyrd Skynyrd. Muscle Shoals, figuratively speaking, was the place where Southern Rock - roughly meaning Duane Allmann slide guitar style rock - was born.