Frank Sinatra – Francis A. Sinatra & Antonio C. Jobim

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Francis A. Sinatra & Antonio C. Jobim

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  • This outstanding original stereo pressing of Sinatra and Jobim’s sublime collaboration earned solid Double Plus (A++) grades for sound on both sides and plays about as quietly as any copy ever does  
  • The Tubey Magical space, ambience and richness of the sound here is the only way we know of to bring the Chairman of the Board and his Brazilian buddy into your listening room
  • This is a magical album from start to finish, one of a handful of a Must Own Sinatra releases, and my personal favorite of all his recordings
  • 4 1/2 stars: “After a few plays, the album begins to slowly work its way underneath a listener’s skin, and it emerges as one of his most rewarding albums of the ’60s.”

This is, in our opinion, one of the two best sounding Sinatra album on Reprise (the other being September of My Years from 1965). The recording is so rich, sweet, and Tubey Magical you would think it was prime Capitol period Sinatra — but it’s not, obviously, it just sounds that way.

If you like romantic music, you will be hard-pressed to find a better album than this one. The song Quiet Nights Of Quiet Stars perfectly encapsulates the mood of this album. My favorite track here is Dindi. Sinatra is the king of lost loves, and the song Dindi offers him another opportunity for regret. Nobody does it better than Frank. It’s a cliche to say he wears his heart on his sleeve, but the man made a career out of it. If the cliche fits…

Tubey Magic Is Key

This ’60s LP has the kind of Tubey Magical Midrange that modern pressings rarely begin to reproduce. Folks, that sound is gone and it sure isn’t showing any sign of coming back.

Having done this for so long, we understand and appreciate that rich, full, solid, Tubey Magical sound is key to the presentation of this primarily vocal music. We rate these qualities higher than others we might be listening for (e.g., bass definition, soundstage, depth, etc.). The music is not so much in the details in the recording, but rather in trying to recreate a solid, palpable, living, breathing Frank Sinatra singing live in your listening room. The best copies have an uncanny way of doing just that.

If you exclusively play modern repressings of older recordings (this one is now 51 years old), I can say without fear of contradiction that you have never heard this kind of sound on vinyl. Old records have it — not often, and certainly not always — but less than one out of 100 new records do, if our experience with the hundreds we’ve played can serve as a guide.

What outstanding sides such as these have to offer is not hard to hear:

  • The biggest, most immediate staging in the largest acoustic space
  • The most Tubey Magic, without which you have almost nothing. CDs give you clean and clear. Only the best vintage vinyl pressings offer the kind of Tubey Magic that was on the tapes in 1967
  • Tight, note-like, rich, full-bodied bass, with the correct amount of weight down low
  • Natural tonality in the midrange — with all the instruments having the correct timbre
  • Transparency and resolution, critical to hearing into the three-dimensional studio space

No doubt there’s more but we hope that should do for now. Playing the record is the only way to hear all of the qualities we discuss above, and playing the best pressings against a pile of other copies under rigorously controlled conditions is the only way to find a pressing that sounds as good as this one does.

Copies with rich lower mids did the best in our shootout, assuming they weren’t veiled or smeary of course. So many things can go wrong on a record! We know, we’ve heard them all.

Top end extension is critical to the sound of the best copies. Lots of old records (and new ones) have no real top end; consequently, the studio or stage will be missing much of its natural ambience and space, and instruments will lack their full complement of harmonic information.

Tube smear is common to pressings from every era and this is no exception. The copies that tend to do the best in a shootout will have the least (or none), yet are full-bodied, tubey and rich.

Some of the copies we played had edgy, too-hot vocals. The best copies have Sinatra’s vocals sounding tonally natural even when he is singing his loudest.

What We’re Listening For on Francis A. Sinatra & Antonio C. Jobim

  • Energy for starters. What could be more important than the life of the music?
  • The Big Sound comes next — wall to wall, lots of depth, huge space, three-dimensionality, all that sort of thing.
  • Then transient information — fast, clear, sharp attacks, not the smear and thickness common to most LPs.
  • Tight, note-like bass with clear fingering — which ties in with good transient information, as well as the issue of frequency extension further down.
  • Next: transparency — the quality that allows you to hear deep into the soundfield, showing you the space and air around all the players.
  • Then: presence and immediacy. The vocals aren’t “back there” somewhere, lost in the mix. They’re front and center where any recording engineer worth his salt –– Lee Herschberg in this case — would have put them.
  • Extend the top and bottom and voila, you have The Real Thing — an honest to goodness Hot Stamper.

Our Favorite Sinatra Engineer

One of the top guys at Reprise, Lee engineered a great many albums for Sinatra as shown below.

The titles in bold have the best music with the highest quality sound in our experience. We have been doing shootouts for all of them for years. You will have a very hard time finding better sound on any Sinatra record than the four bold titles you see below.

The titles with an asterisk are the weakest of this group. We have never done shootouts for them.

Sinatra at the Sands (1966)
Strangers in the Night (1966)
That’s Life (1966)
Francis A. Sinatra & Antonio C. Jobim (1967)
Cycles* (1968)
Francis A. & Edward K. (1968)
My Way (1969)
Some Nice Things I’ve Missed (1974)
Trilogy* (1980)
She Shot Me Down (1981)

You’ll also find Lee Herschberg’s name in the credits of many of the best Ry Cooder, Doobie Brothers and Gordon Lightfoot albums, titles we know to have excellent sound on the best copies — not to mention an album most audiophiles know well, Rickie Lee Jones’ debut. His pop and rock engineering credits run for pages. Won the Grammy for Strangers in the Night even.

The most amazing jazz piano trio recording we know of is on the list as well: The Three (Shelly Manne, Ray Brown and Joe Sample), along with most of the other Direct to Disc recordings released on Eastwind.

TRACK LISTING

Side One

Girl from Ipanema
Dindi
Change Partners
Corcovado
Meditation (Meditação)

Side Two

If You Never Come to Me
How Insensitive (Insensatez)
I Concentrate on You
Baubles, Bangles and Beads
Once I Loved (O Amor en Paz)

AMG 4 1/2 Star Rave Review

By 1967, bossa nova had become quite popular within jazz and traditional pop audiences, yet Frank Sinatra hadn’t attempted any Brazil-influenced material. Sinatra decided to record a full-fledged bossa nova album with the genre’s leading composer, Antonio Carlos Jobim. Arranged by Claus Ogerman and featuring Jobim on guitar and backing vocals, Francis Albert Sinatra & Antonio Carlos Jobim concentrated on Jobim’s originals, adding three American classics — “Baubles, Bangles and Beads,” “Change Partners,” and “I Concentrate on You” — that were rearranged to suit bossa nova conventions.

The result was a subdued, quiet album that used the Latin rhythms as a foundation, not as a focal point. Supported by a relaxed, sympathetic arrangement of muted brass, simmering percussion, soft strings, and Jobim’s lilting guitar, Sinatra turns in an especially noteworthy performance; he has never sounded so subtle, underplaying every line he delivers and showcasing vocal techniques that he never had displayed before.

Francis Albert Sinatra & Antonio Carlos Jobim doesn’t reveal its pleasures immediately; the album is too textured and understated to be fully appreciated within one listen. After a few plays, the album begins to slowly work its way underneath a listener’s skin, and it emerges as one of his most rewarding albums of the ’60s.