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Francis A. & Edward K.

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Album Review

The much-anticipated collaboration between Frank Sinatra and Duke Ellington, Francis A. & Edward K., didn't quite match its high expectations. At the time of recording, the Ellington band was no longer at its peak, and Sinatra was concentrating on contemporary pop material, not standards. It was decided that the record would be a mixture of standards and new material; as it happened, only one Ellington number, "I Like the Sunrise," was included. Due to a mild cold, Sinatra was not at his best during the sessions, and his performance is consequently uneven on the record, varying between robust, expressive performances and thin singing. Similarly, Ellington and his band are hot and cold, occasionally turning in inspired performances and just as frequently walking through the numbers. But that doesn't mean there is nothing to recommend on Francis A. & Edward K. On the contrary, the best moments on the album fulfill all of the duo's promise. All eight songs are slow numbers, which brings out Sinatra's romantic side. "Indian Summer" is a particular standout, with a sensual vocal and a breathtaking solo from saxophonist Johnny Hodges. Much of the material on the album doesn't gel quite as well, but devoted Sinatra and Ellington fans will find enough to treasure on the record to make it a worthwhile listen.

Biography

Born: December 12, 1915 in Hoboken, NJ

Genre: Pop

Years Active: '30s, '40s, '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s

Frank Sinatra was arguably the most important popular music figure of the 20th century, his only real rivals for the title being Bing Crosby, Elvis Presley, and the Beatles. In a professional career that lasted 60 years, he demonstrated a remarkable ability to maintain his appeal and pursue his musical goals despite often countervailing trends. He came to the fore during the swing era of the 1930s and '40s, helped to define the "sing era" of the '40s and '50s, and continued to attract listeners during...
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