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A great melody first, then lyrics,(only) THEN 'vocals'

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  • My favorite of Frank's "DUETS" (for reasons I can't put into words)

    They're playing so many love songs on Siriusly Sinatra you'd think it was Valentine's Day! Oh no wait -- it's the 14th . . . okay then. (And it's Thursday so this must be Winnipeg.)

    I'd been checking YouTube for versions of RODGERS & HART's "My Funny Valentine" -- knowing it's the show closer for today's "Nancy For Frank" show on Siriusly Sinatra satellite radio -- and thought about my favorite of Sinatra's "DUETS -- this one: Frank and Lorrie Morgan. Frank singing "Valentine" and Lorrie intertwining Michel Legrand and the Bergmans' poignant "How Do You Keep The Music Playing." Dick Rodgers and Larry Hart would have loved this pairing. To a gorgeous arrangement by Patrick Williams.
    Last edited by Mark Blackburn; 02-14-2019, 01:50 PM.


    • Where angels fear to tread . . .

      In my lifetime I've had two favorite versions of Johnny Mercer's FOOLS RUSH IN – a song introduced by our favorite singer with the Dorsey Band in 1940. We baby boomers were too young to have heard it and were (re)introduced to the song in 1963 by Ricky Nelson. I was 16 and crazy about Ricky's up-tempo version. What we didn't know was that Doris Day recorded it for an album a year earlier, 1962. Her DUET recording -- 'alone together' with composer/arranger Andre Previn. Elsewhere I've noted the difference between great jazz pianists and great accompanists. Sinatra's life-long pianist Bill Miller was one such (none better, Frank would say). But he had a peer in Previn – whose 'orchestral' improvisations are . . . well, words can't do it justice. Back in the days when “stereo” meant – in this case – Andre playing to your left ear, Doris singing on stage right.

      [Wiki notes]

      "Fools Rush In" (1940) is a popular song. The lyrics were written by Johnny Mercer with music by Rube Bloom.[1]

      The major hits at the time of introduction were Tony Martin, Glenn Miller with Ray Eberle and Tommy Dorsey with Frank Sinatra. It was also recorded by Billy Eckstine.

      The song proved popular with 1960s pop and rhythm and blues artists, resulting in charted remakes in 1960 (Brook Benton), 1962 (Etta James), and 1963 (Ricky Nelson).[3] The Ricky Nelson version was an enormous hit, reaching #12 in the Billboard pop charts and would become the most famous version of this song, and was featured in Kenneth Anger's film Scorpio Rising (1963).

      For their 1962 album Duet, Doris Day and André Previn recorded their interpretation of the song.


      • " . . . where there ain't no 10 Commandments -- and a cat can raise a thirst!"
        Thinking of Rudyard Kipling as I listen to Frank's fabulous rendition of (Come Ye Back to) THE ROAD TO MANDALAY – my favorite humorous arrangement by Billy May (with a riot of oriental bells and gongs that must have had the musicians holding back laughter.) The song, as fans of poetry are aware,was based on some lines by Rudyard Kipling (written 130 years ago).

        Just as an aside, my English-born Grampa introduced me at age nine to Kipling's most splendid achievement -- the poem, “IF.” That same afternoon I first read it I had it memorized -- for a lifetime; I can still recite verbatim! As a teenager I wrote a parody of the poem's opening line that made my Mom laugh out loud. (Is there any sweeter feeling than making your Mom laugh?):

        “If you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs . . . you probably haven't fully grasped the enormity of the situation.”

        Whenever I hear our favorite singer improvising those terrific substitute words for Kipling's Mandalay, I recall reading in one of Frank's biographies that Frank especially took to heart at the time he was starting his own Reprise record label my own favorite line from 'IF' . . .

        “If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster – and treat those two impostors just the same.”

        Anyway, the song about “Burma broads” that triggered all these memories, a posting with 200 thousand "views" at Youtube this night:

        [The relevant portion at Wikipedia]

        In 1907 On the Road to Mandalay became available in sheet music and experienced great popularity, selling more than a million copies.[5] . . . Famous baritone singers have recorded the song, from operatic artists, such as Lawrence Tibbett . . . to more popular singers such as Nelson Eddy and Frankie Laine, and even Frank Sinatra, who sang a jazzy, controversial arrangement in which elements of the Kipling text were changed (notably Temple-bellsbecoming crazy bells).

        Rudyard Kipling's daughter, Elsie Bambridge, so disliked Sinatra's lyrical improvisations and jazzy arrangement of the song that she exercised her authority as executor of Kipling's estate to have the song banned for some years in the U.K.
        Last edited by Mark Blackburn; 02-14-2019, 10:49 PM.


        • A tinkling piano in the next apartment . . .

          . . . a telephone that rings . . . but who's to answer?

          At this moment Siriusly Sinatra satellite radio is playing a live, concert version of THESE FOOLISH THINGS -- introduced by Frank as "one of the great songs -- born in England but which has grown . . . all over the world."

          I don't recognize this recording (though I probably own it). Anyone able to identify this live version? This one, is my new favorite 'live' performance of this great song.


          On a personal note, These Foolish Things (Remind Me of You) was released the year my Mom and Dad met – 1936. Dad said a huge number of hits by all the great song composers were released that year. This was one they danced-to and loved.

          Composed by the same pair that gave us Carole's “favorite song” – A NIGHTINGALE SANG IN BERKELEY SQUARE. The song was a hit for Billie Holiday and has an interesting history – some of it detailed in a recently updated Wikipedia note which specifies the love affairs that were the genesis of Eric Manschwitz's lyrics. (Eric also penned the words to our Carole's “favorite song” A NIGHTIGALE SANG IN BERKELEY SQUARE.) According to Wiki:

          "These Foolish Things (Remind Me of You)" is a standard with lyrics by Eric Maschwitz, writing under the pseudonym Holt Marvell and music by Jack Strachey, both Englishmen . . .

          It is one of a group of "Mayfair songs", like "A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square".[3] Maschwitz wrote the song under his pen name, Holt Marvell, at the behest of Joan Carr for a late-evening revue broadcast by the BBC.[4] The copyright was lodged in 1936.[5] According to the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, British cabaret singer Jean Ross,[6][7] with whom Maschwitz had an extramarital liaison, was the muse for the song.[6][7][8] Other sources suggest that it was Maschwitz' affair with Anna May Wong that inspired the lyrics.

          Billie Holiday's rendering of the song with Teddy Wilson's orchestra was a favorite of Philip Larkin, who said, "I have always thought the words were a little pseudo-poetic, but Billie sings them with such passionate conviction that I think they really become poetry."[9] Holiday's version of the song peaked to No. 5 on the Billboard Pop Songs chart.

          Still my favorite version – the one arranged by Axel Stordahl for our favorite singer's parting album at Capitol.


          • Like a river that can't find the sea, that would be me . . .
            You have to love a people and a place so musical that to honor the genius who wrote the English lyric, as well as the gorgeous melody, to WAVE -- they named their largest airport "Antonio Carlos Jobim International." Yes Jobim wrote the amazing lyric too.


            Several of Jobim's most famous English lyrics were penned by a Canadian-born lyricist and author, Gene Lees (who died at his home in California several years ago).

            Concerning the first of Frank's studio recordings of Jobim songs, I wrote an Amazon review quoting Gene (Quiet Nights) Lees about one of the most exciting nights of his life: Nancy Sinatra was nearby (in the next studio) and her Dad may or may not have introduced Gene to her. (Hope this link works for you.)


            [in case it doesn't -- the heart of the matter]

            Gene Lees (82 when he left us) would likely have written his own appreciation for this beautifully-packaged set. Concerning one of his four songs here, `DINDI" (pronounced JIN-jee) Lees said that Sinatra's interpretation . . .

            " . . . sends chills up my arms and back. Sinatra's reading [of Dindi] is one of the most exquisite things ever to come out of American popular music."

            Lees wrote at the time that "arranger Claus Ogerman, who had been flown to Los Angeles from New York to write and conduct the arrangements, is [standing] ready. Brazilian drummer Dom um Romao, who had been flown out from Chicago to get a better bossa nova feeling than American drummers [were] capable of, touches his cymbals. They start.

            "The first song is "ONCE I LOVED." They go through it, Sinatra not really getting into it properly. He sings well, but not with his usual depth of understanding. After a while, he consults with Ogerman and says into the microphone to producer Sonny Burke in the booth, `Let's go on. Let's do "QUIET NIGHTS."

            "I tense up like a watchspring. I wrote this lyric and no singer has ever sung it absolutely accurately, a problem that bugged Jobim and me for five years . . . They start, and I barely breathe. As Jobim said, `This man is Mount Everest for a songwriter' [meaning] if Sinatra gets it right, we can quit worrying.

            "He does, and I realize that what I've heard about Sinatra's respect for the songwriter's intentions is quite correct. They do it again [on the second take] and raise the level even further, and at last they're satisfied."

            [Later that same evening Sinatra will slip into the next recording studio and with a smaller group of musicians, record Something Stupid with his first-born, Nancy. Lees recalled]

            "As the date progresses, the atmosphere grows looser. By now the control booth is crowded . . . singer Keely Smith dropped by to listen. Nancy Sinatra, much prettier and softer than she seems in photographs, comes in with several friends. She walks into the studio to see her father. He hugs her and grins. He has a warm rich smile. Then, they do another tune."

            One last thought from the composer of "QUIET NIGHTS" - concerning Sinatra's take on DINDI:

            "It is filled with longing. It aches. Somewhere within him, Frank Sinatra aches. And that's fine. That's the way it's always been; the audience's pleasure derives from the artist's pain."

            -- Gene Lees (1967)

            I take it as a sign -- played on Sirius earlier this day -- Gene's favorite (and mine):

            Last edited by Mark Blackburn; 02-15-2019, 12:24 PM.


            • FOR ALL WE KNOW . . .

              . . . we may never meet again. So love me tonight, Tomorrow was made for some; Tomorrow may never come . . .

              Since the year I met my wife, my favorite version (of this most poignant song about the 'sweet sorrow of parting') was by Donny Hathaway. From his 1972 best-selling album with Roberta Flack who provided the lovely solo piano accompaniment. Yes, my life-long favorite until today. Ann Hampton Callaway -- a singer Siriusly Sinatra features at least a couple times a day, lately -- duetting with Freddy Cole, who shares a vocal timbre with his more famous older brother -- who had one of the best-selling versions, I believe. Freddy sings the lovely, seldom-recorded opening verse. Isn't this beautiful?


              [The brief Wiki entry informs us]

              "For All We Know" is a popular song published in 1934. The music was written by J. Fred Coots and the lyric by Sam M. Lewis.

              The first charting versions in 1934 were by Hal Kemp (#3 on the US charts) and Isham Jones (#16). A version by Dinah Washington reached #88 on the chart in 1962. A version by Nat King Cole is also well known. The version by The Spinners in 1965 gave it a more contemporary sound.

              The Rosemary Clooney version is heard over the closing credits of Dan Ireland's 2005 British film, 'Mrs. Palfrey at the Claremont.'

              The Donny Hathaway version from the LP Roberta Flack & Donny Hathaway (Atlantic, 1972) has become one of the standout versions of the song.


              • My Favorite Closing Scene in a movie
                For Valentine's Day I bought my Irene some pink roses, with a really soft teddy bear wrapped (its arms clinging) around the glass vase. She'd spotted it in a Safeway flyer and let me know (twice) that she'd like it. Day one she dispensed with the baby's breath and today trimmed back the petals that were . . . less than perfect.

                My sister Andrea always said to "never underestimate" the power of Valentine's day to work its magic on a woman's heart. Thought of that this night when I googled for my favorite closing scene -- involving a teddy bear, and music by my second-favorite composer, Harry (Salvatore Guaragna) Warren -- his love theme for an earlier movie "An Affair To Remember" -- some people's favorite love story that similarly ends up on the observation deck of what was then New York's tallest building. For a moment a solo piano alludes to "Bye Bye Blackbird." I'm only sharing this for the music, you understand. (S'cuse me, I have something in my eye.)

                Last edited by Mark Blackburn; 02-15-2019, 10:38 PM.


                • But I should never think of Spring, for that would surely break my heart in two

                  Up early (to give my Valentine the knee rub she needed to fall back to sleep) and Sirius had just played Carly Simon's recording of I GET ALONG WITHOUT YOU VERY WELL my favorite ballad by Hoagy Carmichael (often credited with both the words and the music – but there's a story there).

                  In 1981 Carly, who is my age, was the only popular singer to record an album of standards, or songs like this one that 'deserved to be standards' (it would be a few more years before Linda Ronstadt and Nelson Riddle would do three LP's worth of standards that sold six million copies).

                  Yes, when Carly recorded “I Get Along Without You Very Well” she was effectively introducing this poignant song to fans our own age. I didn't know at the time that Frank Sinatra included it on his most famous album in 1955. He was the first important singer to record the song since it was introduced, then disappeared in 1939 (except for Hoagy singing the song on screen in 1952.

                  He'd been given a poem by someone named Ruth Brown Thompson and borrowed a phrase or two from Chopin to give it a tune. He tried to track Ruth Brown Thompson down before its first performance on radio. He later learned she'd died the night before – not knowing how inspirational her poem of years earlier had been to the composer who gave us “Stardust.”

                  Is it at Youtube – Carly's version? Yes! Now, back to sleep!


                  The brief Wiki entry – in its entirety

                  "I Get Along Without You Very Well" is a popular song composed by Hoagy Carmichael in 1939, with lyrics based on a poem written by Jane Brown Thompson, and the main melodic theme on the Fantaisie-impromptu in C sharp minor, Op 66, by Frédéric Chopin.[1] Thompson's identity as the author of the poem was for many years unknown; she died the night before the song was introduced on radio by Dick Powell.[1]
                  The biggest-selling version was a 1939 recording by Red Norvo and his orchestra (vocal by Terry Allen).[2]
                  Carmichael and Jane Russell performed the song in the 1952 film noir The Las Vegas Story.[1]


                  • "Dedication to Canadian - Frank Sinatra I'll Be Seeing You"

                    We just got a tip of the hat from 'Jersey Lou' Simon -- or whoever is programming Siriusly Sinatra satellite radio this day.

                    The words, “Dedication to Canadian” appeared just before the posted song title: “I'll Be Seeing You – Frank Sinatra.” Something that never happens.

                    I have a thread titled "My Favorite Version -- Yours too?" in the "Sirius radio" folder of the Forums at the website.

                    After that "dedication" there was no album cover to indicate which version was played (1940 Tommy Dorsey, or the “I Remember Tommy” swing version, or the lovely ballad rendition arranged by Axel Stordahl -- my favorite). Bracketing this “Dedication to Canadian” selection were: “Sway – Dean Martin” and “Goody Goody Della Reese" (complete with respective album covers).

                    I leave my computer on 24/7 streaming Sirius so I can see which songs I missed. And while I was sleeping, someone at Sirius smiled and said hello! Let's assume it was this version, my favorite. That painting, with a cold winter sky at twilight is magnificent. Always wondered who painted it.



                    • LOST IN THE STARS
                      "The scene is in New York City at the General Sherman "Goddess of Victory" statue, near an entrance to Central Park, with the Plaza Hotel in the background . . . "

                      A friend "Bob in Boston" researched the cover painting for Sinatra's parting album at Capitol Records. I replied: As we used to say at the movies, Bob: 'This is where I came in.'


                      The Plaza Hotel! – where I almost met my future “favorite composer.” I rode on the same elevator with him; when he got off, my musical Dad pointed at the man and said, “That's Richard Rodgers.”

                      The year was 1960. We were in New York City to see a Broadway musical, TAKE ME ALONG (words & music by Bob Merrill; the show won Jackie Gleason a Tony for Best Actor; Canadian-born Walter Pigeon also starred.) It was the same evening of the day that Rodgers' great partner Oscar Hammerstein II died. The lights were 'lowered' in all the theaters on Broadway.

                      My first Sinatra album review for Amazon (5-stars “Desert Island CD”) I shared with the Family here 14 years ago. Opening with this reminiscence:


                      A friend asked today, "If you could keep only ONE of his albums, which one goes with you to the proverbial desert island?" The short answer is, "This one." But a big ocean of memories will surround that island.

                      Back when I was just six years old, I attended my best friend David Pearce's birthday party, and his mother -- a widow, who I can remember thinking was so beautiful -- took out a picture of little David's late father and told us boys how she'd married on the "Day of Infamy." (Much later I'd learn that was the term used by President FDR for December 7, 1941 when Pearl Harbor was hit, launching American involvement in WWII).

                      Then Mrs. Pearce told us that "Frank Sinatra -- you don't know him, was always our favorite singer." I remember feeling honored, at that moment -- in some way that my six year old heart could never express in words---that she would share with us that photograph, and her memories of David's late father. And then, speaking to me alone (as the other boys at the party gravitated towards David's new toys) Mrs. Pearce told me in a soft voice:

                      "Frank Sinatra is the greatest singer, Mark. Maybe someday you'll agree with me." Then she put on one of his records---something from the first Capitol album of 1953 (how I wish with all my heart that I could recall which song she selected---but I do remember listening, dutifully, and feeling very much like a big man who was seeing eye-to-eye with this beautiful woman who was treating me like an adult.


                      I grew up in a musically literate home, with loving (and very musical) parents who once saw a live performance by Frank Sinatra with Tommy Dorsey's band in July of 1940 (at Toronto's "Canadian National Exhibition"----a sort of glorified `state fair' in Canada's largest city). My parents had no Frank Sinatra LPs from the 1950s (only one or two old "Columbia" 78s from the late 1940s). Dad gave Mom two Nat Cole LPs in the 60s, including one arranged by Gordon Jenkins---my Mom's favorite singer and her favorite arranger, right up until her death three years ago.

                      My parents always took us to see "Broadway" musicals as performed locally, (in my hometown of Ottawa Canada) and eventually---in 1960---they took us to see the "real thing"----I remember being told that the theatre house lights were being dimmed all over Broadway that very night because Oscar Hammerstein had just died. Mom told me "He's the greatest lyricist, Mark" suggesting (like Mrs. Pearce) that one day, perhaps when I was older, I might agree with her.

                      On that same visit to NYC I remember stepping off an elevator in the Plaza Hotel, and my father immediately telling me "that man there, you just rode in the elevator with is Richard Rodgers" (who would one day be my favorite composer). But as with beautiful Mrs. Pearce trying to introduce me to Frank Sinatra, I just "wasn't ready" to appreciate greatness . . . "


                      Any track from that album is “my favorite recording right this minute.” As it happens Siriusly Sinatra satellite radio just played THIS one (one of the few NOT written by my favorite composer). Yes, as Frank said in another context -- introducing Fred Astaire dancing with Eleanor Powell: 'You can wait around a hundred years, and you'll never see (hear) the likes of this again.”

                      Last edited by Mark Blackburn; 02-16-2019, 06:19 PM.


                      • I saw your eyes -- now castles rise in Spain
                        The very next offering after LOST IN THE STARS on the shuffle play miracle that is today's YouTube . . . was this one. Yes, if I had to discard the rest and keep only one track, it would be this, Rodgers & Hart's very best. Here comes the climax . . . "I never lived at all, until the thrill, of that moment when my heart stood still . . ." Never fails, goosebumps and tears of joy.


                        The 2005 review I wrote for this album THE CONCERT SINATRA concluded with these words.

                        With an extra decade of immersing myself in Frank Sinatra's greatness, I'd have to say that only a "religious experience" --- and a glimpse of Eternity---could ever surpass what I feel in my heart, the sheer exhilarating joy I experience, when I listen for example, to "My Heart Stood Still" (my favorite of these).

                        There is the high plateau where the singer and his great collaborator Nelson Riddle have their true, "shining hour." At that defining moment in 1963, the arranger conducts his finest orchestrations, with the largest symphony orchestra ever assembled in Hollywood -- as the singer on a mountain peak of vocal greatness, performs his favorite songs by his (and my) favorite composer. For me personally that is the `coming-together-of-a-lifetime,' -- all the peak emotions of memory, a lifetime's worth of emotion, bringing me tears of joy each time I hear it. (These days, the experience is rationed to perhaps once a month, and then just a cut or two at a time, so as to preserve the experience----I want to `spread it out' over the rest of my life, if I can.)
                        Last edited by Mark Blackburn; 02-16-2019, 07:18 PM.


                        • ANYTHING GOES

                          Good authors too, who once knew better words now only use four-letter words writing prose . . . anything goes!

                          Earlier this day Sirius radio played my favorite living singer's version of ANYTHING GOES -- slowed right down, ballad style. Gorgeous. Alas none of Calabria Foti's songs are posted at YouTube. It's a crime. But it reminded me of my all time favorite version of this song from half a century ago. Just listened to HARPERS BIZARRE's 1967 version. Incredibly it's just as affecting to my ears. Yes, baby boomers heard this on A.M. Radio and didn't know it was written by Cole Porter. ("Who's he?") I defy you to listen to this and NOT smile! Thanks, YouTube.



                          • MAYBE YOU'LL BE THERE

                            As I type this 'The Chairman's Hour' is playing my favorite version of MAYBE YOU'LL BE THERE -- Diana Krall's. The arrangement by Claus Ogerman is the best orchestral presentation this great ballad ever had. As if to underline the fact, we hear Frank's voice by way of introduction say: "Here's one of the newer sounds . . . "


                            The concluding words are among the most poignant ever sung.

                            "Someday, if all my prayers are answered . . . I'll hear a footstep on the stair. With anxious heart I'll hurry to the door, and maybe . . . you'll be there?"

                            [According to the brief Wiki entry]

                            "Maybe You'll Be There" is a popular song composed by Rube Bloom, with lyrics written by Sammy Gallop. The song was published in 1947.

                            The recording by Gordon Jenkins was released by Decca Records as catalog number 24403. It first reached the Billboard magazine Best Seller chart on June 11, 1948 and lasted 30 weeks on the chart, peaking at #3. This recording was Jenkins' first charting record. The vocal on that recording featured the piano player Charles La Vere.

                            It has become a pop standard, recorded by many artists since its composition, with a well-known recording being by The Four Aces.


                            • My favorite song you never heard of

                              Siriusly Sinatra this morning played COFFEE TIME – the most obscure song ever recorded by Natalie Cole. It was a track on her “Still Unforgettable” follow-up album to the album that featured her duet with her father – an album that sold more than 14 million copies world-wide.

                              I miss Natalie so much – most every day I think of her, comparing in my mind's ear her version of a song being sung by someone else on Siriusly Sinatra. Concerning COFFEE TIME I quoted her in an review I wrote for her final album of standards. I concluded my review this way:

                              “Something I look forward to each time Natalie gifts us with a new album of standards (this is her fourth such offering but the first one in six years). There's always a great tune most of us have never heard before. This time, it's "Coffee Time" - a deceptively simple little `riff' tune as Frank Sinatra used to call such melodies - this one written by my second-favorite composer, Harry (Salvatore Guaragna) Warren.

                              Natalie (in her delightful, but too-brief) liner notes gives credit where its due - "to Tony Bennett."

                              "I ran into Tony on several occasions in 2007 and he kept bugging me about doing this song! I had never heard of it. But he said I would thank him . . . and he was right: Introduced in 1945 by Fred Astaire and recorded by the late Mike Douglas the talk show host, [there we are, Edna!] as well as by singer Carmen McRae. It's totally cool, Tony - thank you!"

                              [NOTE to Natalie: On your spring tour this year, you made one stop in a Canadian city (lucky Halifax, Nova Scotia). Just wanted to say, we have a world-class symphony orchestra here in the "world's coldest major city." And we promise you a warm welcome, should you find your way back here!]

                              Mark Blackburn
                              Winnipeg, Manitoba



                              • There we are, Edna! HERE'S THAT RAINY DAY

                                "There we are, Edna!" (above) referred back to my opening words of that review:

                                I awoke this morning thinking about Natalie Cole (her latest CD went on sale today in Canada) and my thoughts were about Natalie's long-ago `Winnipeg connection.'

                                Back when Natalie was embarking on her own career, and appearing for the first time on TV-network talk shows -- like Mike Douglas (more about that in a moment) Natalie performed at a long-forgotten Winnipeg nightclub -- "Town & Country." It was there Natalie met with the wife of a dear friend -- named Edna Ducharme, then our city's preeminent dress designer (whose creations were once featured in the Chicago Tribune fashion pages).

                                Natalie asked Edna to custom-design some dresses, and wore them, to Edna's delight, on a couple of network TV appearances. Edna died several years ago (after a long battle with diabetes). And, I'd like to think she's looking down today -- and smiling proudly at Natalie's continuing appreciation for the most exquisitely-beautiful, (one-of-a-kind?) fashion creations --- as modeled by Natalie on the cover and liner notes of this latest `gem' of an album.

                                That style and grace certainly extends to the music here!


                                Do me a favor, would you? When you get this CD, go straight for track 8 - "Here's That Rainy Day" [one of the two best songs written by Johnny Burke and Jimmy Van Heusen -- the other is "But Beautiful" - the track that follows this one]. Just leave your CD running from there . . . for what may be the BEST sequence of several songs on the album (though every one of these is brilliant, and each arrangement sparkles with subtle, delightful differences.

                                All my life I've been waiting to hear (what I would declare) the "best-ever" version of "Here's That Rainy Day." Up till this evening, my favorite was Frank Sinatra's reading (to a magnificent Gordon Jenkins' arrangement).

                                This one, dare I say, surpasses Frank's - filling my heart with joy: Absolutely note-perfect in every way! Natalie's slow and gentle, almost rubato, out-of-tempo, take on "Rainy Day" breathes new life into every word of Johnny Burke's poignant, two-stanza masterpiece. And the arrangement by the (almost) incomparable Alan Broadbent . . . leaves me lost for words. [Correction: Alan did most of the beautiful ballad arranging here . . . but not this one -- another one orchestrated by Nan Schwartz, (Her Dad was an instrumental soloist with Sinatra; her Mom was in a vocal chorus that recorded with Frank).]

                                The track that follows, "But Beautiful" has been performed by many vocalists ("over 400 recordings," Natalie says in her own liner notes) but this rendition is another "best-ever" recording, I think.

                                [A word about Natalie's delivery: It is as powerful and lovely (and `athletic' and `artless' -- even more like Sinatra than her Dad) and you would never guess that Natalie faces "chemo" for Hepatitis C in the days to come, "and all my hair cut off next week" (she said last night on "Entertainment Tonight").]

                                Natalie died three years ago. [Let's find those versions if they are at Youtube] "Rainy Day" first; then "But Beautiful."