The Sinatra Project
Ten years have passed since Frank Sinatra’s death, and it has been a decade filled with tribute albums of just about every stripe. But trust Michael Feinstein, firmly established at the quarter-century mark of his career as the world’s foremost excavator and preservationist of the Great American Songbook, to come up with something unique. First, Feinstein has sidestepped the signature hits, figuring the world doesn’t need another copycat version of “Come Fly With Me” or “That’s Life.” Second, Feinstein isn’t interested in attempting to replicate the Sinatra sound. Instead, his goal is to explore the iconic, industry-altering style defined and evolved by Sinatra in association with the likes of Nelson Riddle, Billy May and Axel Stordahl. Third, Feinstein, goes a giant creative step further by blurring the Sinatra eras, resetting, for instance, “Begin the Beguine” (recorded with Stordahl in 1946) in a swingin’ Riddle groove, and engulfing “Exactly Like You” in thundering waves of Billy May brass.
Finally, Feinstein unearths two Sinatra rarities: a dreamy ballad called “How Long Will It Last,” included in a late ’40s recording session but not completed; and the heartbreaking “The Same Hello, the Same Goodbye,” commissioned from Alan and Marilyn Bergman and John Williams by Sinatra near the end of his career, but never performed or recorded. Add that Feinstein, too often accused of being overly buttoned-up, achieves a genuinely Sinatra-esque ease from start to finish, and the cumulative result is the finest of the 24 albums he’s delivered to date.