The jazz pianist, vocalist and song writer Ben Sidran has been kind enough to answer my questions about Frank Sinatra through an interview.
Hello Ben Sidran. I am Ozgun Akalin, owner of TheFrankSinatra.com. First of all, I would like to thank you for accepting to interview with me. I believe the readers of my site shall be quite interested in your answers about Sinatra, as you are a very talented artist. And the opinions of a great and world-wide popular artist such as you shall be highly respected and found worthy. Let me start with my first question.
As a great pianist and musician, you create your own music and sing/play them most of the time. And we clearly can see that you have tried to avoid singing and playing famous jazz pieces throughout your career. What is your personal opinion about artists’s covering songs instead of writing their own and where do you see yourself in this argument? Do you like singers covering famous Sinatra songs over and over?
The reason people continue to cover songs that Sinatra made famous is because Sinatra had impeccable taste and the songs he sang included all the great songs of the era. These songs are still — fifty years later — the greatest vehicles to express everyday human emotions, and so it is understandable that people continue to sing them. Sinatra is the standard for how they should be sung because of his great talent and his unique style that made every listener believe he was singing to them. I do not try to cover old songs but from time to time, I find myself doing it because the songs “call me”.
But there are still few songs that Frank Sinatra had sang and you have covered. Everything Happens To Me, which you had included in your album “Sentimental Journey”, is one of them. In fact, Everything Happens To Me was first recorded by Frank Sinatra in 1941 with Tommy Dorsey’s orchestra. What do you think about Sinatra’s and your version, how would you compare them?
I believe “Everything Happens to Me” was from my album “Too Hot to Touch” which also included “On the Sunny Side of the Street”. It was recorded in 1989 and although I could never compare my version to Sinatra’s, I did feel I found a sincere and relaxed place to sing them and very personal arrangements to support that.
Has Frank Sinatra somehow affected you at any point in your musical/personal life?
Frank Sinatra was very important to me from the first time I heard him sing “Birth of the Blues” back in the 50s and all throughout my college years; “Only the Lonely” remains one of the greatest records ever made.
And when listening to music, do you prefer Sinatra? If yes, which songs of Sinatra do you prefer?
I have so many choices these days, I usually put my computer on “shuffle” and just let the music wash over me but I am always happy when it turns up Sinatra.
We have come to last question. What do you think about Frank Sinatra? It can be about his style, career, influence on music industry or anything.
Frank was simply a modern man with great empathy and courage and his style of singing and living shaped a generation and then another and then another.
Mr. Sidran, thank you again for interviewing with me. I am sure Frank Sinatra fans will be quite satisfied. I wish you success and ultimate creativity in your life and music. Interviewing with you was a pleasure.
Ben Sidran has some very nice songs, and I love that he includes lots of saxophone parts in his songs. Saxophone is simply my favourite instrument in jazz music.
For further reference and information about Ben Sidran, please refer to following links. There are also many great live performances of him on YouTube.