Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Sinatra's world tour, 1962

Today Frank Sinatra would have been 97. I've been checking out videos here and there, and have found the one below from his 1962 tour, which he did accompanied by a sextet, based on Red Norvo's, with whom he had toured previously (Norvo was unavailable for this one), which gives a lighter, jazzier feel to the music.

But first, a couple of excerpts from Will Friedwald's indispensable tome The Song is You (Da Capo, New York, 1997).

Much of 1962 would be devoted to a venture that remains unique in Sinatra's career... It is distinguished by the remarkably high caliber of the music produced as well as the surprisingly low profile the tour itself and the documents of it have kept for the following thirty years.
Giving an example how the good that the man does is overlooked by the press, Sinatra's one-time sparring partner Buddy Rich touched on [it] ... years later: "He took [six] of the best musicians in Los Angeles," said the drummer. "He chartered an airplane, went to Japan, went to London [to raise money] for the orphanages. He paid the transportation of the entire technical crew, plus the musicians, plus the entertainers. He gave every musician a set price plus their expenses for hotels and food. And nobody ever knew about it. He just went over and did this out of the goodness of his heart. You gotta be some kind of a beautiful man to do this."

The tour was the largest humanitarian gesture of Sinatra's career. Describing himself as an "overprivileged adult," he set out to raise money and goodwill on behalf of underprivileged children. "Jack Kennedy asked Frank to do this world tour to help needy children of the free world," recalled Emil Richards... "Kennedy asked him to do it under the auspices of the State Department..., but Frank... said 'No, I'd like to do it on my own—I'd like to sponsor it.'"

As one who fully comprehended the positive and negative power of the media, Sinatra had to decide whether or not to inform the American press about this undertaking, and he chose to exclude them.
A number of recordings have circulated among fans along the years, but there is one official release from this tour, Sinatra and Sextet: Live in Paris (Reprise, 1994) recorded at the Olympia on June 7, 1962.

The following is footage from his performance in Milan, on May 25, 1962.

Frank Sinatra - vocals
Bill Miller - piano
Al Viola - guitar
Ralph Peña - bass
Irv Cottler - drums
Emil Richards - vibraphone
Harry Klee - alto Saxophone, flute

PS: Raw footage of a programme for Italian TV, here, with the same combo, singing "Come Fly with Me", "Night and Day", "Witchcraft", "A Foggy Day", "The Lady Is Tramp", "Imagination", "Chicago", "My Blue Heaven", "I Love Paris", "I've Got You under My Skin", "My Funny Valentine", and "Moonlight in Vermont".

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