Francis Albert Sinatra & Antonio Carlos Jobim

1967/1998: Reprise 9 46948-2

  1. The Girl from Ipanema
  2. Dindi
  3. Change Partners
  4. Quiet Nights of Quiet Stars
  5. Meditation
  6. If You Never Come to Me
  7. How Insensitive
  8. I Concentrate on You
  9. Baubles, Bangles, and Beads
  10. Once I Loved

Sinatra at his most gorgeous, as far as I’ve heard. There is a lushness and a poised passion here that is intensely touching and intimate; the combination of the overabundance of the orchestration (typical of its day in that, but not as overblown in this as was usually the case) and the simpler grace of Jobim’s guitar is sultry and engaging, creating a nighttime lounge both plush and “hip,” but Sinatra’s voice atop it all gently brings it all together and puts the listener directly in front of a wistful late-night singer in that context (if not in the body of the singer himself).

I should call out specific tracks for further commentary, but really there’s no track on this album that I wouldn’t say all the above about. What varies from song to song is not the overall sound but the emotional cast he gives it. There are highlights, of course, but perhaps predictably the opening track isn’t one of them—although that might just be a Me thing, as I’ve never gotten into that song in the first place regardless of whose recording I was hearing…it was “before my time” in perhaps some strange time-hiccup that has kept it from me (as is the case with the Three Stooges, by the way, but I hasten to add that there is no link between the two situations…I hope…).

Despite its kicky “I’m Candy—fly me!” ’60s-fluff opening, “Change Partners” is all-but-bursting with longing and seduction, elegantly held in check within polite social boundaries while conveying at least a double meaning with impressive subtlety.

“Once I Loved” is so beautiful that I just want to curl up in a big chair and sympathize when I hear it…commandingly moving. “Baubles, Bangles, and Beads” was a surprise for me: although this album was one of my introductions to Sinatra and his truly impressive versatility and emotional range, this song was the one “fun” track here and still sustained the album’s delicacy and sultriness, all the while Sinatra gives us an astonishing mix of slickster indifference and fully smitten testimony about a woman’s captivating charms.

Although I love this album overall, with certain tracks shining a bit more than others, in the final analysis I must say that “I Concentrate on You” is the one that touches me most and ensorcells me absolutely every time I hear it: the gentle bossa-nova instrumentation is a coy and flirtatious beach across which Sinatra’s profound ponderer slowly strides by moonlight…. The lyrics are perfect, the music’s perfect, and Sinatra’s voicing of it all still outshines everything else; the only thing wrong with this track is that it ends. And at a mere two minutes and thirty-eight seconds! Criminal….