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By Mahnuel Muñoz

In the early 1960s, Frank Sinatra created Reprise, his own record label, with the aim of having greater creative control over his works and offering these conditions to artists who signed a contract with the company. However, on the first Reprise albums Frank could not count on the pen of Nelson Riddle creating his unmistakable arrangements; Riddle had to fulfill his contract with Capitol, the label where they both created their unforgettable joint albums.

Curiously, in this new stage for which Frank decided to entrust his sound to new names, one of the first titles were orchestrated by a figure with whom he had collaborated in the beginning, the multifaceted Sy Oliver, whose melodic and sophisticated arrangements helped to define Jimmy Lunceford‘s sound in the 1930s and modernized Tommy Dorsey‘s band in the 1940s. What better project to reunite Frank and Sy than a tribute to Dorsey.


A sample of the sound that Sy Oliver contributed to Jimmie Lunceford’s orchestra.
Frank Sinatra and Sy Oliver began working on the album “I Remeber Tommy” for the Reprise label in March 1961, coinciding with the last days of recording “Come Swing With Me!”, the penultimate album of their contract with Capitol Records. . After listening to the tapes of those first sessions, the singer was not satisfied with the results. As Oliver told Sinatra scholar Ed O’Brien, they tried to offer an approach as close as possible to Dorsey’s original sound, that is, a 1940s dance band with a small string section. But Frank’s vocal nuances were logically different from those of twenty years earlier, and it became evident that the number of violins had to be increased to mitigate any technical imperfections, intolerable for a perfectionist like Sinatra.

In May 1961, Sinatra and Oliver redid seven of the eight cuts recorded in March and added five new scores. The eighth piece of March, a beautiful reading of “In The Blue Of Evening“, was never taken up and slept in oblivion until its debut on the CD reissue of “I Remeber Tommy” in 1992. Today we can easily enjoy her thanks to her presence in the virtual compilation “Reprise Rarities Vol.1” (2020).

For the most dedicated Sinatra listener it is easy to notice small flaws in the artist’s vocal performance, but not major enough for this wonderful piece to have been collecting dust and cobwebs for so many years.

Will Friedwald, in his essential book “Sinatra! the Song Is You: A Singer’s Art” critically points out that the album lacks the freshness of Frank and Tommy’s original recordings and that it does not have the level of other contemporary works by the singer. . He also adds that Sy Oliver’s arrangements are not on par with those signed by Nelson Riddle or Billy May.


To me, however, it seems that disco does not deserve such severity. The rereadings that Frank makes of some of his first recordings are beautiful because of the emotionality and a certain reflective character that this 45-year-old man with centuries-old life experiences assigns to them, and the orchestrations, although they may not have the originality of those created by the arrangers header of The Voice, constitute a perfect sound background for the protagonist’s intentions; Some of them (“Imagination“, “East Of The Sun“, “Without A Song“, “I’ll Be Seeing You” and “The One I Love“) have a reserved place in my list of major Sinatra classics.

The album received a more than good reception, with forty-two weeks on the charts and a peak in third place.

Track listing

“I’m Getting Sentimental Over You” (George Bassman, Ned Washington) – 3:42
“Imagination” (Johnny Burke, Jimmy Van Heusen) – 3:05
“There Are Such Things” (George W. Meyer, Stanley Adams, Abel Baer) – 3:13
“East of the Sun (And West of the Moon)” (Brooks Bowman) – 3:24
“Daybreak” (Ferde Grofe, Harold Adamson) – 2:43
“Without a Song” (Vincent Youmans, Billy Rose, Edward Eliscu) – 3:39
“I’ll Be Seeing You” (Sammy Fain, Irving Kahal) – 2:49
“Take Me” (Rube Bloom, Mack David) – 2:19
“It’s Always You” (Burke, Van Heusen) – 2:49
“Polka Dots and Moonbeams” (Burke, Van Heusen) – 3:43
“It Started All Over Again” (Carl T. Fischer, Bill Carey) – 2:32
“The One I Love (Belongs to Somebody Else)” (Isham Jones, Gus Kahn) – 2:48
“In the Blue of Evening” (Tom Montgomery, Tom Adair, Al D’Artega) – 4:03
“I’m Getting Sentimental Over You” (Reprise) – 0:49

Access the Complete Discography of Frank Sinatra in the following link of Sinatra Radio 24h

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