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Given his enormous talent and unparalleled musical history--not to mention the healthy, suffer-no-fools ego they inspired--it's hardly surprising that duets are relatively few and far between in Frank Sinatra's catalog, his smash duet on "Somethin' Stupid" with daughter Nancy
notwithstanding. But in the heyday of the TV variety show, the star-hosted format virtually demanded musical cross-pollination, a tradition that carried over from radio. It's that fertile, largely unexplored territory that this rewarding, 21-track anthology (most previously unreleased on CD) explores in conjunction with the PBS special of the same name.
Here, Sinatra scales the jazz summit with Louis Armstrong on "Birth of the Blues" and does three electrifying collaborations with one of his faves, Ella Fitzgerald. Rat Pack cohorts Dean Martin and Sammy Davis Jr.--along with honorary member Bing Crosby--loosen up the legend as always, and even rival Elvis Presley gets the Chairman's respect on a wonderfully playful meeting-of-the-icons medley of "Witchcraft"-"Love Me Tender." A warm, welcome addition to the Sinatra canon, whose banter-filled performances emphasize the saloon singer supreme's humor and humanity. --Jerry McCulley