11 October 2011 | moonspinner55
"Welcome to another one of our lovin' sing-ins..."
Third and final "A Man and His Music" television special from Frank Sinatra changed networks (from CBS to NBC) and also added a live audience in the third act: a series of wonderful duets between Ol' Blue Eyes and Ella Fitzgerald. Opening the special with 'music' from our daily lives, Frank segues easily into "Day In, Day Out", backed with Nelson Riddle and his orchestra against a blood-orange backdrop. The visual effect is stunning, however Sinatra makes some missteps in the musical program from here. "I'm Getting Married in the Morning" is fine on its own, but as the lead-in for a too-upbeat "What Now, My Love?" it gets lost. "Ol' Man River" is a good showcase for the dramatic Sinatra, yet the simple presentation here doesn't lend the song any punch. Ella then joins Frank for some 'impromptu' renditions of current songs (circa 1967) and one is keenly aware of Sinatra's condescension towards trendy pop (his contempt for "Downtown" in 1966's "A Man and His Music Part II" still reigns supreme, however). A quick trip through the bossa nova songbook accompanied by Antonio Carlos Jobim is extremely pleasant, leading to the finish with Fitzgerald which is truly stunning. Frank is ingratiating and chummy, as usual, but he really comes to life when there's an audience to sing for, which makes one wonder why so much of this program has canned laughter and applause (following in the footsteps of his two previous specials). At one point, Sinatra can't even be bothered with his prop microphone and sets it down. The camera-work and editing are not as sharp as one might hope (particularly in the piano-duet with Fitzgerald), however there's much to enjoy here. Sinatra remarks at the close how fast the hour went, and he is precisely right. It flies right by on a jazzy magic carpet filled with songs and love.