Reviews of artists, music, albums, radio, streaming stations, DVDs, movies and books tied to the Rat Pack era music

Steve-Tyrell-ThatLovinFeelin-mediumI have to admit to a bit of trepidation…

At first I was jazzed to learn that Steve’s visit to Austin was timed with the release of That Lovin’ Feeling —  his new LP. There’s nothing like catching an artist performing new material he’s really jazzed about.

But when I saw the album promo materials emphasizing Tyrell singing “standards of another kind”… I have to admit I was concerned.

“Hound Dog”… Really?

After delivering 10 albums over nearly twice that many years that are spectacular exhibitions of mostly classic Tin Pan Alley standards, Steve moved uptown to 49th and Broadway on his 11th LP release … delivering 15  tracks of next generation ’50s and early ’60s era pop/R&B classics —  the Brill Building sound. [Read more…]

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Christmas at Our House - Dale CornA couple of weeks back…

…while lamenting the dearth of good holiday releases this year, I mentioned Dale Corn’s Christmas at Our House (EP) as one of the exceptions to this season’s underwhelming holiday music rollout.

At just three tracks, we only receive a taste of holiday interpretations under the tree from young Mr. Corn, but it’s well worth snaring if your holiday palate leans toward swing’n, big band fare.

No stranger to the dance halls and jazz club club circuit along the mid Atlantic Seaboard, Dale conducts a very fine 17 piece big band that he also fronts with his dulcet, clarinet-resonant vocals … a voice different from the bromidic crooner style and one I find very agreeable. [Read more…]

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Tony “The Clam” Consiglio…

…is finally opening up to offer us an inside view Frank Sinatra — Tony’s best friend for more than 60 years.

Beyond being a “never in doubt” loyal compatriot to Frank, Mr. Consiglio apparently earned his nickname by being extremely tight lipped … apparently NEVER parting with any low-down on the private doings of Mr. S and his pack of rats.

At least that’s the story proffered in Franz Douskey’s interesting new book “Sinatra And Me: The Very Good Years” that released this week.

Randall Beach has a great book intro/review piece — Memories of Sinatra captured in best friend’s words — in the New Haven Register this week. Beach hits on the special nature of the Sinatra-Consiglio relationship and the process that Franz Douskey had to work out with Tony C. to get “the clam” to open up.

Tony strongly believed he was going to meet up with Frank in heaven, so even when “the clam” eventually opened up, he reserved the right to cull anything he ultimately decided should not be published … what a great friend.

Mr. Consiglio rejoined his best friend in 2008 with a clean conscience … I figure they’re hitting all the swinging spots with Dean, Sam and the gang.

Beach turns out a nice intro article…

…that sets the table well for what sounds like a great read on Sinatra — the man — and his constellation of friends, wives, lovers, politicos and enemies.

“Sinatra and Me: The Very Good Years” sounds like a super-sized version of the Sinatra we glanced from Gay Talese’s elegantly insightful Esquire magazine article — “Frank Sinatra Has a Cold” (VS review here).

I have “Sinatra and Me” resting comfortably in my kindle for my holiday reading pleasure, right after I finish Randisi’s latest Rat Pack Mystery — “It Was A Very Bad Year” . (BTW the “Sinatra and Me” kindle price is only $6.99 — a huge discount off the $20 paperback price.)

Check out Randall Beach’s New Haven Register piece; if like me you just can’t consume enough Rat Pack lore, hit Amazon and take advantage of their unusually good kindle deal on “Sinatra and Me: The Very Good Years”.

 

 

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Robert Randisi’s latest Rat Pack Mystery

… “It Was A Very Bad Year” — just landed on my Kindle.

As you probably know by now, I love these Rat Pack Mystery novels; and I’ve been anxiously awaiting this — the seventh in the series — since this time last year (check out my previous Rat Pack Mystery reviews here & here).

Randisi turns out fun, immersive, Dashiell Hammett-esk detective stories that are set in Las Vegas and Hollywood (mostly), and steeped in the milieu of the extended Rat Pack (Frank, Sam, Dean and their constellation of hangers-on) at the height of their careers and influence. It’s easy, fun reading … a great Sunday afternoon escape.

Invariably in this series one of the Rat Packers gets into some sort of trouble and Sands Casino pit boss, and friend of Mr. Sinatra — Eddie Gianelli — is called in to “do Frank a favor”. With Jerry — Eddie’s buddy … the very large, lovable, Mafia torpedo — along for the ride, things get interesting in a hurry as they attempt to make the problem go away.

This time ’round…

…it’s Joey Bishop’s wife that starts the ball rolling with a bit of a blackmail issue. But this is 1963 … and as the title suggests “It Was A Very Bad Year” for Frank Sinatra with the bombshell of Jack Kennedy’s assignation, and the kick in the gut of Frank Jr.’s kidnapping.

My book queue is full-up at the moment so I can’t offer a review until later this month … hmmm, maybe a fun T-day week read is in order! However, I must admit that the cast of characters arrayed for the 7th in the series doesn’t quite have me as enticed as usual — I much prefer seeing Ava Gardner, Marilyn Monroe or the core Rat Packers as the central characters rather than Bishop’s wife and Frank Jr.

That said Randisi has never failed to craft a fun, sexy, action packed “who done it”, with interesting tie-ins to the real happenings of the day; all generously larded with the ambiance of 60’s Rat Pack era Vegas … I have confidence that’s where I’m headed when I do start turning the pages (virtually of course) on the next Rat Pack Mystery — “It Was A Very Bad Year”.

I’ll let you know in a few weeks, but don’t wait on me! If your up for some swing’n, murder mystery fun, dive on in!

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© Tina Tyrell

The pantheon of American Song Book writers…

In my recent Complete Ella Fitzgerald Song Books article, I called out Burt Bacharach and Hal David (others) as song writer/composers that belonged in the same conversation with the greats that Ella and Norman Granz targeted with the Verve Records “Ella Sings…” Song Book series.

I want to follow up on that because I think it’s both important and cool to view the corpus of the Great American Song Book as a living, growing thing.

Right on the heels of the generation of foundational standards writers like Cole Porter, Irving Berlin, the Gershwin bros, Duke Ellington, Rodgers and Hart, Jerome Kern and Johnny Mercer — the Ella Song Books — came another generation of equally talented composers and lyricists that took their turn with baton and pen.

I can think of few (Henry Mancini maybe?) that experienced greater success in the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s than Burt Bacharach and Hal David.

As Steve Tyrell says in the liner notes of his fabulous tribute album — Back to Bacharach — Burt and Hal effectively…

“…created the modern chapter of the Great American Song Book … the new standards of the twentieth century were born.”

[Read more…]

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As I mentioned in ‘The Complete Ella Fitzgerald Song Books’ post last week, I will review each of the eight album releases in that box set over the next few weeks as a series. First up, The Cole Porter Song Book…

The perfect place to start…

Not long after arriving at Verve Records in the mid 50’s, Ella Fitzgerald and Verve founder Norman Granz began rolling out what would become their definitive series of composer/songwriter Song Book releases.

Granz’s decision to kick things off with Cole Porter is an understandable testament to Porters fundamental place as a songwriter in American popular music.

Born to midwest wealth before the turn of the 20th century, Porter shunned the expected family business path expected of him to pursue music and song writing.

And what a wonderful decision that was!

Hitting his stride in the 1930’s, Cole Porter wrote hundreds of standards classics — mostly for broadway and later for the movies — that became huge hits in the 40’s, 50’s and 60’s for folks like Ella, Sinatra and just about every other singer of the era. [Read more…]

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For some crazy reason…

…the folks at Decca Records let Ella Fitzgerald get away in 1955.

In his excellent A Biographical Guide to the Great Jazz and Pop Singers book, Will Friedwald theorizes that the Decca folks were showing deference to their star, but in an age when studios and record labels managed their talent with an iron fist it still seems odd to me.

Regardless, after selling ~22 million records for Decca, Ella partnered up with Norman Granz at his new Verve record label and began a collaboration that would last for decades and render arguably the best vocal jazz/standards recordings of all time.

Scores of Fitzgerald/Verve LP releases  — including some of the absolute best live/jam recordings I’ve ever heard — would follow but it’s the eight Song Book albums that came on the heels of Ella’s arrival at Verve that enchant me so. [Read more…]

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Michael Feinstein…

…just released The Gershwins And Me: A Personal History In Twelve Songs … a very interesting book that chronicles the six years Michael spent with Ira Gershwin researching and cataloging the music and lives of George and Ira Gershwin.

Feinstein uses twelve songs (that he also performs on a CD that comes with the book), his deep research and anecdotes associated with these classic numbers to reveal the essence of his time with Ira, as well as the lives and music of the Gershwins and their foundational roles as composer/song writers in what has become The Great American Songbook.

Head over to NPR for the lowdown on Michael’s new book/CD, including excerpts from his recent Fresh Air interview … or listen to the whole Fresh Air interview that is available as a stream (a download or a transcript as well … very cool).

If you’re a bit on the wonkish side regarding The American Songbook and the great songwriters of that era (yeah, that’s me) then this is “not to be missed” stuff.

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