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Steve Tyrell: Songs of Sinatra

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For my money, there are no finer two-and-a-half minutes in the pop-jazz vocal pantheon than Frank Sinatra, backed by Count Basie and his Orchestra, traveling at V8 cruising speed through Quincy Jones’ arrangement of “Fly Me to the Moon” on 1964’s It Might As Well Be Swing. So news that Steve Tyrell had, as part of this 14-track Sinatra homage, recorded a note-for-note replica immediately set off alarm bells. No need, it turned out, to panic. At about the 90-second mark, Tyrell made my neck hair stand at attention precisely as Ol’ Blue Eyes had.

Tyrell’s “Bewitched,” wrapped in a string-laden Alan Broadbent arrangement that mirrors Nelson Riddle’s for the 1957 Pal Joey soundtrack, is equally hair-raising. Indeed, apart from a disjointed “Something Stupid,” which pairs Tyrell with daughter Lauryn and fails to duplicate the vaguely creepy fever of the Frank ‘n’ Nancy original, there are no egregious missteps here. Plus the subtly gorgeous presence of Roy Hargrove on a disc-concluding “You Go to My Head” is a welcome bonus.

Vocally, of course, Tyrell’s ground-glass Texan grit is hundreds of miles from the Jersey-born incomparability of Sinatra’s bourbon-filled Baccarat beauty. Yet while the sound is significantly different, the soul is the same. Tyrell, fully appreciative of the gems he’s handling, treats them with no only the care and respect but also the intelligence they, and Sinatra, deserve.