cover image Sinatra! the Song is You: A Singer's Art

Sinatra! the Song is You: A Singer's Art

Will Friedwald. Scribner Book Company, $32 (560pp) ISBN 978-0-684-19368-7

This admiring account of Frank Sinatra's career provides only sporadic glimpses of the singer's personal life, focusing instead on the music. Friedwald (Jazz Singing) portrays Sinatra as an artistic rebel in the 1940s who campaigned for style and class against mediocrity and a bottom-line mentality. The crooner from blue-collar Hoboken, New Jersey, spent 20 years in an ultimately triumphant struggle to own and control what he produced, yet by the 1960s, market forces compelled him to work with material alien to his personal taste. Nevertheless, observes Friedwald, whose generally perceptive criticism is laden with superlatives, Sinatra expanded his musical palette while remaining true to his heritage. The colorful, prodigiously researched narrative focuses on Sinatra's collaborations with bandleaders Harry James and Tommy Dorsey, musical arrangers Axel Stordahl, Nelson Riddle and Billy May and songwriter/orchestrator Gordon Jenkins. (Sept.)