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Stardust – Frank Sinatra

By | 2017-06-10T00:19:34+00:00 October 8th, 2012|Categories: Songs|Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Stardust, originally “Star Dust”, was firstly a song composed by Hoagy Carmichael in the year 1927. Two years later, in 1929, Mitchell Parish wrote the lyrics for Stardust. It is certainly a standard and was sung and recorded by many artists of jazz-swing era, including Frank Sinatra. Stardust was not just “one” of the songs that Sinatra sang, but a sentimental ballad Sinatra performed almost in perfection.

Stardust Frank Sinatra

Frank Sinatra first sang Stardust when he was in the band of Harry James. In fact, the very first song Frank sang with Harry James’ orchestra was Stardust. Jack Palmer, a trumpeter of Harry James said: “Just before the second show, Harry came out and introduced him as the new singer with the band. Frank then joined us at the next date we had, which I believe was in New Haven, Connecticut. I’ll never forget how Harry introduced him to the audience. He said, “Ladies and Gentlemen, this is our new vocalist, and we don’t have any arrangements for him as yet. Frank, do you think we can scare something up for you to sing?” Sinatra called out “Stardust,” which is not the easiest song to sing. Frank gave us the key and the piano and rhythm section began, and we just tried to get some background to hold it all together.

A version of Stardust can be found in Frank Sinatra and Harry James Complete Recordings. Compared to later versions, this Stardust version has a noticeable faster tempo.

Stardust had its part in Jo Stafford’s memories as well. Jo Stafford says: “We knew we were going to have a boy singer, but we didn’t know anything about him. We didn’t even meet him before the first show. Out came this rather frail looking young man with a whole bunch of hair. I just thought, hmm kinda thin. But he sang no more than a few bars of “Stardust” and a great hush fell over the theatre. Nobody had ever sounded like that before.”

Herb Sanford, Tommy Dorsey’s radio producer (after hearing Sinatra singing Stardust): “Boy, this is something else.”

Apparently, Sinatra sang Stardust to impress people after joining both Harry James’ and Tommy Dorsey’s orchestra.

In 1940, 11th of November, Frank Sinatra recorded Stardust with Tommy Dorsey Orchestra, and showed us how Stardust should be performed; slower tempo, and a slow start of “Some-times-I-Won-der-Why-I-Spend The-lonely-Nights”. In this version, Sinatra starts to sing with “The Pied Pipers”, and just in the middle of “Nights”, Pied Pipers stop, and Frank Sinatra completes the word “Nights” in an amazing way, with a brilliant voice. The “You were in my arms” part is also quite notable. Stardust is one of the leading successful songs of Tommy Dorsey era of Frank Sinatra, and was a big hit in the year 1941.

“The 1940 “Stardust” is strictly the “Smile Again” layout applied to another tune. And most effectively too, judging by its effect on Buddy Rich, who was hardly the band’s sensitivity specialist. Rich, who prided himself on being hyper masculine and downright ant sentimental, later confided to friend Mel Torme that Sinatra’s rendition of “Stardust” had him hiding his face so that no one would catch a glimpse of his tears.” (SINATRA! The Song Is You by Will Friedwald)

A famous Stardust version of Sinatra is from 1943, performed in “Your Hit Parade”. It was presented by Lucky Strike, and the video of it is available.

Frank Sinatra recorded Stardust again in his album “Sinatra and Strings” in 1962 under Reprise Records. Don Costa arranged and conducted the song this time, yet this time Sinatra sang only the verse of the song. (And now the purple dusk of twilight time…) Only the verse itself with a beautiful string section is enough, as the recording shows us.
“Costa penned an elaborate introduction, proving he wasn’t averse to writing a verse to a verse for the Voice. This intro was a key reason why Sinatra guitarist Tony Mattola cited “Stardust” as his favorite Sinatra performance. “Don sets it up like almost a tone poem in the beginning,” he said, “and it could stand by itself as a classical piece.” Then Frank just sings this lovely verse, and then Don ends it, as he does in the beginning. Whoever thought of that idea-whether it was Frank or Don or whoever-it’s completely original and absolutely beautiful.” (SINATRA! The Song Is You by Will Friedwald)

Stardust would never be a choice for Sinatra’s concerts, but the brilliant versions from 1940’s are definitely more than enough.

America Dances Program 19-07-1939

By | 2017-06-10T00:19:37+00:00 March 20th, 2012|Categories: Articles|Tags: , , , , , , |

On 19th of July, 1939, Frank Sinatra and Harry James‘s band had a broadcast, America Dances Program. And we are very grateful to have this 73 year old piece available to us.

Frank Sinatra Harry James America Dances Program

Frank Sinatra Harry James America Dances Program

 

 

The following paragraphs are taken from covers of America Dances disc.

Fine diamonds, vintage wines, classic cars, McKinley buttons. They all fit in the same category. Look under the column entitled “rare”. To a collector of recorded broadcast music, the Harry James band of 1939 would also belong under the heading.

One of the Golden Years in the era of the big bands, 1939 saw the opening of the New York World’s Fair, the start of World War II, and the advent of the James band. Harry, having made his mark with the great Benny Goodman aggregation, set out in January of that year to front his own group, one with a definate emphasis on swing and build quire understandably, around the leader’s horn. With his own band and arrangements tailored to his liking, Harry had more space in which to develop his solos, as opposed to playing jazz trumpet as a sideman and having to condense his ideas into 8 or 16 bar solo spot.

The band had a recording contract with Brunswick and held their first session in February. Out of the thirty five sides released that year, (sixteen on Brunswick and the rest on Columbia, which Harry joined in August) seventeen were instrumentals. Handling the vocals initially was Bernice Byers, who was succeeded by Connie Haines, heard here in this July broadcast. The first male vocalist (not including scat-singing trumpeter Jack Palmer) was a wavy-haired and thin-faced young man named Frank Sinatra. This may have something to do with the fact that these ’39 James are so rare, because this was Frank’s first job with a band.

The first selection here was broadcast from an engagement at New York’s famous Roseland Ballroom. Shorty George, a tune recorded by the Count Basie band the previous year, includes solos by Harry, Claude Lakey on tenor and Jumbo Jack Gardner on piano. It is interesting to note that Lakey, during his long association with the band, played tenor, alto, and used to double as the fourth man in the trumpet section at times.

To You, a hit ballad of the day, was recorded by Tommy Dorsey and Glenn Miller. The James version was not recorded but is sung ably by Sinatra, who exhibits some of the fine qualities which made him one of the most celebrated in popular music in the ensuing years. On his early recordings, the voice quality is thinner due to the higher keys associated with youth, but note Frank’s unique pronunciation and good pitch. The great phrasing had not yet developed but was certainly adequate.

King Porter Stomp is a ave Matthews arrangement recorded earlier in the year and features Harry, Lakey, Gardner, and the afore mentioned Matthews on alto. Just six days before this broadcast, the band had recorded From The Bottom Of My Hear, the first record made by Sinatra, and one which will give you an idea of why that Brunswick recording is one of the rarest in existence. The version heard here features a full chorus solo by Harry which had been cut down to half on the recording so as to fit within the limits of the old 78’s. The spot of tenor is by Lakey.

Beer Barrel Polka is presented first as a straight-laced version, which moves into a bright swing following a drum break into the second chorus, and ends after a cut to half-time, all of which must have confused the dancers in the ballroom back in those days when they had a name for every step you did on the floor! Solos are by James, Lakey and Matthews.

Connie Haines sings the obscure White Sails, and does so in that cute “Litthe Girl” voice later heard with the Tommy Dorsey band.

In the penultimate item, the band gives the Lunceford opus Well Alright a typical 1939 treatment with the band singing and clapping behind Jack Palmer’s scat vocal. Lakey’s tenor is followed by a rousing James solo and later by a last chorus ensemble borrowed from King Porter.

The Two O’clock Jump, which became the tune most associated with James through the years, is the blues in F and Db. Originally done by the Count Basie band as the One O’Clock Jump, Harry added cascading triplets in the last chorus and moved the clock ahead an hour. This is the full arrangement, and includes whole sections out of the recording the band had made earlier in the year. Harry still carries the tune in the book and has recorded it many times, each time with some variations or additions.

Side 2 presents the band in 1940. Sinatra had already left to join Tommy Dorsey after the band’s engagement at Victor Hugo’s in Los Angeles at the end of 1939, and the singer following Frank was Fran Heines out of Canada. One day another young man made an appointment to sing some of his songs for Harry. James told the lad hi didn’t like the songs but he’d certainly like him to join the band as a singer. His name, Dick Haymes, soon to be recognized as the possessor of one of the fines voices ever. Dick replaced Heines and stayed with the band until late 1941, when he left to join Tommy Dorsey, ironically enough again to replace Frank Sinatra!

Harry had a new recording contract with U.S. Recording Co. which produced records on the Varsity label. The quality was poor and, as a result of 1940 band was never heard at its best on records. Although the selections heard on this broadcast are not representative of the great library of swinging instrumentals the band had acquired (Don Redman was contributing scores at the time), it does feature some of the tunes the band recorded.

Maybe, a Jack Matthias arrangement, features Dick Haymes with a voice matured well beyond his years. Very impressive is the resonance Dick always managed to achieve in the low register.

Concerto For Trumpet features Harry as the virtuoso that he is, playing the famous original composition which had been recorded in Los Angeles only the previous autumn. James did this often in the early years – mixing the technical with the classics, the ballads and the swing

Dick returns to sing “Too Romantic” a ballad featured that year in the movie The Road to Singapore, one of the early Hope-Crosby classics. The tenor sax solo in the first chorus is by Vido Musso, who joined the band earlier in the year. Vido had played in the  Goodman band with Harry a few years before.

The side closes with Feet Draggin’ Blues another James original recorded a year earlier and which was among Harry’s most popular arrangements. This too remained in the book a long time afterward.

The 1939-40 James band years are said by many to be the best and swinginist. In any case, these rare early boradcast are a welcomed addition to any Collection.

Bob Friedlander

Mr. Bob Friedlander is a professional arranger, composer, and conductor, and has arranged for such big bands as Harry James, Sam Donahue, Richard Maltby, Ralph Flanagan, Johnny Long. He provided music for Grace Kelly’s wedding in Monaco, and Mike Todd’s birthday party for Elizabeth Taylor. He was assistant arranger to George Williams on the Jackie Gleason show. Born in Balwin N.Y., Bob was a first hand spectator of the James band in the early 40’s.

Special thanks to Kate Peart, Peter Johnston, and Dan Mather for aid in the production of this album.

The part above is from the back of America Dances Program.

1939-07-19 Frank Sinatra Harry James America Dances Program LP

1939-07-19 Frank Sinatra Harry James America Dances Program LP

The first part of the America Dances disc, as mentioned, is from 19th July 1939. The other side of the America Dances disc is from 1940, with Dick Haymes as vocal instead of Frank Sinatra, as Sinatra had left Harry James’s band to join Tommy Dorsey and his orchestra.

2 songs of the America Dances Program includes Frank Sinatra, which are “To You” and “From The Bottom Of My Heart”. The other songs either has Dick Haymes, or no vocals, just orchestra. As known, most of the songs in the big band era are instrumental only, or they give very small part to vocal.

To You is a kind of song that makes you say. “Why don’t we have more songs of early Sinatra?” . The quality is quite nice despite it was recorded 73 years ago from a broadcast, and is very enjoyable. The phrasing is just as expected, and I especially love “I’ll be forever yours” and “Your smile made the clouds and the shadows on high take wings” parts, very lovely. Due to the quality, the band parts are better listened with low sound.

From The Bottom Of My Heart is the second and last song song that Sinatra sings in this album. I find every line very well phrased and the orchestration is wonderful. When listening, you can realize how wonderful the “If You’d Say I Love You” line is sang. Just to hear this line, I can listen to this recording again and again.

America Dances Program of Frank Sinatra with Harry James Orchestra is surely a must for all Sinatra fans who love his early years, as it has a historical value. Early recordings are hard to come by as Sinatra was not very popular those times, most of them are lost. With these recordings, we can understand Frank Sinatra better, and see how his voice changed and improved in time.

 

Frank Sinatra and Harry James, All or Nothing At All

By | 2017-06-10T00:19:39+00:00 June 3rd, 2011|Categories: Articles|Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

A room at Lincoln Hotel. The radio is on. Harry James is sleeping, while his wife Louise Tobin is getting dressed. The voice on radio gets Louise’s attention, she wakes her husband and says “Harry, you might want to hear this kid on the radio. The boy singer on his show sounds pretty good.”

It was June, 1939 when this happened. Harry Haag James had left the orchestra of Benny Goodman, which was quite well known and successful those days, to form his own band.

Harry James

The next night he heard Frank on the radio, he went to Rustic Cabin. He asked the manager where he could find the singer and the manager told: “We don’t have a singer. But we have an emcee who sings a little bit.” Sinatra was the head waiter, chief bottler and sweep-up man in Rustic Cabin.

A singing waiter named Fred Travalena remembers Sinatra. “Frank hated the place, but he knew how to put a plate in front of somebody and he’d do anything to be able to sing” he said later during an interview.

And a young singer in Cabin, Lucielle Kirk, said: “One of the best I’ve ever heard. Every time he opened his mouth, the audience went quiet. He could take the control of an audience just by looking at them. There was a magic about him.”

When Sinatra heard that Harry James was there that night, he started to sing “Night and Day.” “As Frank sang Night and Day, I felt the hairs on the back of my neck rising. I knew he was destined to be a great singer” said James about Frank years later.

That night, James asked Frank to join the auditions for his band. James had reputation, and Frank was very willing to join. Rustic Cabin was no good for him. James also asked Frank to change his name from Frank Sinatra to “Frankie Satin”, because he found the name too much Italian. Frank said “Change it? You kiddin?” Frank had already changed his name once years ago and after his mother Dolly’s reaction, this was not going to happen again.

Sinatra remembers that day. “When he left Benny Goodman and started his own band and came over to see me, I almost broke his arm so he wouldn’t get away ‘cause I was dying to get out of that place.”

Sinatra went to Lincoln Hotel for auditions later. Skeets Herfert explains as following: “Frank walked in with no arrangements. The other guys, who were auditioning for Harry, had charts and everything. But Frank just walked in, walked over the piano player, told him what he wanted to sing, what key he wanted in, and stood up and sang. He knocked everybody out. When the musicians heard Sinatra, that was it. There was no doubt about it.”

“Frank Sinatra” joined the band of Harry James as the vocalist in June 1939 and signed a 2 year contract. Frank Sinatra and Harry James Orchestra played at many places, the first being at Hippodrome in Baltimore on June 30 1939, and they even recorded 10 songs together. The songs were as following.

From The Bottom of My Heart
Melancholy Mood
My Buddy
It’s Funny to Everyone But Me
All or Nothing At All
Here Comes the Night
On a Little Street in Singapore
Who Told You I Cared
Ciribiribin (They’re So in Love)
Every Day of My Life

(All the songs were arranged by Andy Gibson)

Frank Sinatra Harry James 1939

Among the songs they recorded, there was a very special song. It was “All or Nothing At All.” Lyrics by Jack Lawrence, music by Arthur Altman. Though the song sold only around 8500 in 1939, 4 years later when it was released by Columbia Records again it was going to sell more than 1 million in a short time.

But things were not going as good as they expected in 1939. The records sold around 8000, being far away from being a hit, and they even played for very few people sometimes. Meaning? They were broke and unsuccessful.

Frank Sinatra Harry James Orchestra 1939

Once they were playing in Chicago’s Hotel Sherman and the great band leader Tommy Dorsey was also there. One day Frank found a note saying that Tommy Dorsey wanted to see him. Dorsey needed a vocal since the vocal of his band had left. He offered Frank $100 a week (some sources say $110.) Let’s hear the rest of the Frank Sinatra – Harry James story from Frank Sinatra’s words.

“Harry James was one of the finest men I’ve ever known in my life. To tell you the kind of man he was, I had signed a 2 year contract with him, and when I was offered a job within the Tommy Dorsey orchestra 6 months later, Harry took the contract and tore it up. All he said to me was be sure to get more money that I was able to pay you.”

Harry James later told: “Nancy was pregnant, and we weren’t even making enough money to pay Frank the $75 he was supposed to get. So he went with Tommy Dorsey and I said, well if we don’t do any better in the next six months or so, try to get me on too.”

Frank Sinatra remembers those days as “a wonderful six month experience” and Harry James as “a real nice guy with real know-how as a musician.”

When Harry Haag James died in 1983, Sinatra said to Nancy Jr: “He made it all possible for us…”

Frank continued till January 1940 with Harry James. After the last show, Harry James and the musicians left the town. “The bus pulled out with the rest of the guys” Sinatra remembered. “I’d say goodbye to them all, and it was snowing. There was nobody around, and I stood alone with my suitcase and watched the tail-lights disappear. Then the tears started… There was such spirit and enthusiasm in that band.”

Frank Sinatra Harry James Band 1939

It is very clear that Sinatra really loved Harry James, but he had to leave to achieve more. Though James seems older than Sinatra in pictures, he was 3 months younger than Sinatra and no doubt that he was a nice and modest guy. Considering that Dorsey caused a lot of trouble because of the contract later, Harry James was generous enough to tear his contract with Sinatra apart. He wasn’t selfish, and he wanted the best for Frank. And for Frank Sinatra, it was either all, or nothing at all…

Moon Love

By | 2017-06-10T00:19:39+00:00 June 3rd, 2011|Categories: Songs|Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

“Moon Love” is a beautiful song recorded by Frank Sinatra two times, first in 1939 with Harry James, and in 1966 in the album “Moonlight Sinatra“, arranged by Nelson Riddle (Reprise Records). The song is actually adapted from Tchaikovsky’s Fifth Symphony, and lyrics are written by Mack David, Mack Davis and Andre Kostelanetz.

Moon Love Frank Sinatra

 

And below is the 1939 version of of this song when Sinatra was working with Harry James orchestra.

Moon Love Lyrics

Will this be moon love, nothing but moon love
Will you be gone when the dawn comes stealing through
Are these just moon dreams, grand while the moon beams
But when the moon fades away, will my dreams come true
Much as I love you, don’t let me love you
If I must pay for your kiss with lonely tears, say it’s not moon love
Tell me it’s true love, say you’ll be mine when the moon disappears

Sadly no live version of Moon Love exists, it would be nice if Frank Sinatra had sang this song at least once in his concerts.

 

Frank Sinatra and Harry James Complete Recordings

By | 2017-06-10T00:19:40+00:00 June 3rd, 2011|Categories: Albums|Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Frank Sinatra and Harry James Complete Recordings is an album of Frank Sinatra songs when he was working with Harry James Orchestra.

Harry James and his Orchestra, featuring Frank Sinatra, by Columbia Records.

Frank Sinatra and Harry James Complete Recordings

Songs in Frank Sinatra and Harry James Complete Recordings:

1. From The Bottom Of My Heart
2. Melancholy Mood
3. My Buddy
4. It’s Funny To Everyone But Me
5. Here Comes The Night
6. All Or Nothing At All
7. On A Little Street In Singapore
8. Who Told You I Cared?
9. Ciribiribin (They’re So In Love)
10. Every Day Of My Life
11. From The Bottom Of My Heart
12. Melancholy Mood
13. It’s Funny To Everyone But Me
14. All Or Nothing At All
15. Stardust
16. Wishing Will Make It So
17. If I Didn’t Care
18. The Lamp Is Low
19. My Love For You
20. Moon Love
21. This Is No Dream

There are several notable songs in Frank Sinatra and Harry James Complete Recordings.

Melancholy Mood: Despite the annoying music at the beginning, very well performed by Frank Sinatra.
All or Nothing At All: Wonderful music and lyrics. His emphasis on some words are weird, but considering that this is one of Sinatra’s first records, it is quite acceptable.
Ciribiribin: One of the best songs in the album for me, and one of the undiscovered songs of Sinatra. His voice in this song is so beautiful that it makes you understand how good his voice in his early years was.
Stardust: This song gets better and better as you listen to it. It captures the absolute spirit of 1939. One one side, there is the big band, and on the other side is Frank Sinatra’s historical performance. Sinatra’s part ends at 1:22 and after that, till the end of the song, that is 4:01, you hear a marvelous work of Harry James’ orchestra. I specifically recommend focusing on between 2:43 and 4:01. If you are into big band music, you will love every second of it. This version of Stardust, with ease, is the best of its kind.
If I Didn’t Care: This is a very nice and also widely known song by Ink Spots. And listening this from Sinatra is nice.
Moon Love: The music and Sinatra’s voice are simply charming. Recommended.
The Lamp Is Low: Beautiful music and lyrics. A song very easy to enjoy despite some faults here and there.

Frank Sinatra and Harry James Complete Recordings is very important since these are the first songs Frank Sinatra recorded. It also gives us the opportunity to listen the young and amateur voice of Sinatra.

In the video below, you can listen to the song “Moon Love”,  1939 version from this Frank Sinatra and Harry James Complete Recordings album. Sinatra also recorded this song later for his Moonlight Sinatra album, in 1966.

And below is the “Stardust”. One of the best performances of those years.