Actually, a good way to really try to kill jazz, or any music, is to try and explain it in any concrete detail. Sinatra's voice, his timing and his phrasing have all been analyzed to death. Musicians need more than these skills to become great. We should not overlook the fact that at every turn of the road, Sinatra was either surrounded by or surrounded himself with the greatest talent available. That is a very jazz-like thing to do. Tommy Dorsey, Nelson Riddle, Billy May, Count Basie, Quincy Jones, Martin, Fitzgerald and many other collaborators were music giants in their own right. But the confident Sinatra was not one to be intimidated by great musical talent in others. He embraced it. It helped him grow into the consummate performer. This was not playing it safe. It was taking risks. In the end, all jazz is about risk taking.
"September in the Rain" was apparently rarely performed by Sinatra in concert. If it had been, it would have undoubtedly reached the status of some of his more famous tunes. Its fond wistfulness is the perfect vehicle for master storyteller Sinatra. The balladeer tells us another tale of found love. It is not clear whether he lost this love as he would in the "Summer Wind." But there is no doubt that he will love the next September in the rain just as much, regardless of what happened.
Even the most beautiful of songs need the best interpreters to make them truly come to life. Nelson Riddle fits that bill. And when it comes to singing the words with meaning, no one has been better than Sinatra. He may have had some dubious connections in his real life. But I never once question whether Sinatra is telling the truth in his songs. I believe every word he says. That is the true testament of his transcendent artistry.
May 29, 2008 · 0 commentsTags: september in the rain
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