FRANK SINATRA / DUKE ELLINGTONG – FRANCIS A. & EDWARD K.
Recorded on Sinatra’s birthday in 1967, this collaboration between America’s most popular singing icon and pre-eminent jazz composer still endures as one of Sinatra’s most enjoyable Reprise-era albums. The Ellington Orchestra stretches out in style, with the five-man horn section (including trumpeter Cootie Williams and saxophonist Johnny Hodges) expertly counterpointing the Chairman’s assured vocalizations on “All I Need Is the Girl,” “Follow Me” and Ellington’s “I Like the Sunrise.” Bobby Hebb’s “Sunny” works surprisingly well (Sinatra sounds as if he’s singing it to Frank Jr.), and “Indian Summer” is heart-stoppingly lovely. Francis A. & Edward K offers ample proof that, provided with properly challenging material, Sinatra could still astound and amaze. Sadly, the record sold poorly, presaging a move towards poppier pastures.