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Sessions with Sinatra: Frank Sinatra and the Art of Recording Paperback – October 1, 2003


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Chicago Review Press (October 1, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1556525095
  • ISBN-13: 978-1556525094
  • Product Dimensions: 7 x 0.6 x 10 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (40 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #119,568 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Granata, producer and director of Sinatra's Columbia recordings, offers a rare glimpse into the work that went into making the Sinatra sound. He covers all the technical details, from Sinatra's early pioneering of the microphone as instrument to transcripts of his many studio directions and casual late-night jokes. Granata summarizes the major recording eras in Sinatra's career, from the Columbia years (1943-1952) to his Duets work in the mid-1990s with singers such as Bono and Chrissie Hynde. With a foreword by adoring sound engineer Ramone and afterword by Nancy Sinatra, this testimony to Sinatra's studio time is weakened only by its unwavering homage. But much can be read between the lines. What is said (Sinatra is quoted, "You can never do anything in life quite on your own.... Making a record is as near as you can get to it") and what can be extrapolated (Sinatra did not, perhaps, appreciate the debt owed to songwriters, musicians, producers and arrangers) can make for good reading. Late in the book, Granata confesses, "Sinatra's personal relationships with the musicians were complex.... Maybe Sinatra feared the old adage, 'Familiarity breeds contempt.'" It's evident throughout that Sinatra asserted his ideas and ego masterfully, creating his unique sound and image with an iron will. Those who enjoyed Bill Zehme's book on Sinatra's style, The Way You Wear Your Hat, will welcome this look at the technique, skills and behind-the-scenes action involved in one of the longest, most successful singing careers in U.S. history. 100 photographs. (Nov.)
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Kirkus Reviews

For all the mountains of verbiage expended on Frank Sinatras personality during his life and since his death, very little has been written about Sinatra as a singer and recording artist. Granata, who has had access to all the extant unedited tapes of Sinatra's hundreds of sessions in the studio, ably fills that gap here. Granata is project director of the massive re-release of Sinatra's Columbia recordings; his essay in Frank Sinatra and Popular Culture (1998) was singled out for praise in reviews of that collection, and provided a foretaste of this longer study of Sinatra as singer and musician. As he points out, Sinatra's career coincided with several important developments in the technology of sound recording, spanning nearly seven decades from the era of wax master recordings to the digitally recorded compact disc. Sinatra sang through the big band era to the post-modern post-rock era, from mono to stereo, from lacquer and shellac to magnetic tape. As a result, this erudite but lucid volume comprises not merely a history of Sinatra's career but also a crash course in the developing story of preserving music in recordings. Granata, who never lets you forget that Sinatra was a supremely gifted musician, includes interviews with dozens of the men and women who worked with him in the studio, illustrating his working methods. The result is a truly musical biography that charts the most important part of Sinatra's legacy, his singing. If you can only buy one Sinatra bookafter you've bought all the hundreds of records or CDsthis is the one to have. -- Copyright ©1999, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

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Congratulations, Mr. Granata for an excellent and well-crafted book you've written.
Rebecca*rhapsodyinblue*
The history of the recording field, rare photos and even reproductions of score pages simply make this a must-have volume.
Jeff B Sultanof
The devoted Sinatra fan must read this book, and listen to the Sinatra CDs that Mr. Granata has produced.
Mark Gerson

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

20 of 20 people found the following review helpful By "franksoprano" on December 11, 1999
Format: Hardcover
Charles Granata's "Sessions with Sinatra"is amazingly the first book to take you into the recording studio with the century's finest popular singer.
Spanning the RCA-Dorsey era, through "Duets," Granata has interviewed arrangers, musicians, producers and engineers and goes behind the scenes into the actual recording of such classic albums as "Only the Lonely," "Songs for Swinging Lovers," "Sinatra-Basie" etc (little known fact:Jobim wasn't the only guitarist to play on the Sinatra-Jobim LP.)
"Sessions with Sinatra" is not only a must for any serious Sinatra fan, but for any student of America's pop musical history.
"Sessions with Sinatra" read back to back with Kitty Kelly's "His Way," might give one a fascinating portrait of both the man and the musician.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Jon Warshawsky on June 23, 2000
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Granata does a great job taking us behind the scenes for the technology and people who brought us the best popular music of the century. The photos, which focus on the studio instead of the amply documented night life theme, are probably worth the price of the book, but the author is an expert in recording technology and provides anecdotes and discussion as to how and why Sinatra had such an impact and continues to make his mark.
Because we take it for granted today, it is easy to forget that the way in which recordings were created had much to do with the kind of music that was recorded. Granata notes one occasion on which a perfect take had to be remade because a three-and-a-half minute song was too long for Columbia's equipment at the time. What stands out, though, is that for all the bad press Sinatra gets for his impatience on movie sets, he clearly managed the recording process down to the minutest details during the Columbia and Capitol years, resulting in a degree of musical excellence that was not exceeded even during the technologically more advanced 1960s Reprise era. Granata gets high marks for explaining all of this in a way that is highly readable for those of us who love music and have limited understanding of engineering concepts.
The most fascinating chapter may well be the one dealing with a nadir of Sinatra's career, the Duets project of 1992/3. Throughout, we learn that Phil Ramone was constantly selling the project to the singer, while FS (to his credit) continually called the whole purpose of the project into question. If you think Duets sounds like a mistake, you should read this account of how Sinatra was pushed into making these pale remakes from his legendary songbook.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Jeff B Sultanof on January 28, 2000
Format: Hardcover
No book has ever captured the experience of a recording session and the recording experience like Charles Granata. Long known as an authority of Frank Sinatra's work, this book actually conveys why Sinatra's recordings are classic and still speak to us. Granata's viewpoints are fair and, in the case of the controversial Mitch Miller recordings, as balanced as a writer can be in presenting all sides of the story. His interviews with such under-appreciated musicians such as arranger George Siravo ( who contributed far more to the canon of Frank Sinatra than most people realize) are particularly valuable. I am delighted that he has quoted extensively from Nelson Riddle's arranging book (which I edited for publication), which has much valuable information about how Nelson worked with Sinatra. The history of the recording field, rare photos and even reproductions of score pages simply make this a must-have volume.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Rebecca*rhapsodyinblue* VINE VOICE on May 30, 2006
Format: Paperback
"I adore making records. I'd rather do that than almost anything else." ~ Frank Sinatra, 1961 ~

"Frank had the color and the fire and the brains and the imagination. Intellectual background strangely enough. Artistic sensitivity." ~ Nelson Riddle, 1983 ~

"Most Sinatraphiles would argue that his finest work, and the style he will ultimately be remembered for, was forged with Nelson Riddle. Sinatra-Riddle partnership was musically ideal and illustrates how a symbiotic musical relationship between orchestrator and singer can make a world of difference in what we hear and how we hear it." ~ Chuck Granata, 2004 ~

"Sessions with Sinatra and the Art of Recording" is indeed a wealth of information on everything you should know about Frank Sinatra's recordings. It is divided into five parts: The Big Band Years (1937-1942), The Columbia Years (1943-1952), The Capitol Years (1953-1962), The Reprise Years and Capitol Revisited. Mr. Granata did an excellent job in outlining Frank Sinatra recordings during his entire musical career, and his vast knowledge on all aspects of recording, technical in particular, is so amazing.

The Foreword was written by Phil Ramone, who himself is very well-versed when it comes to recording session engineering, and once said that he "was in heaven on the day that he realized his dream of engineering a Sinatra session."

Nancy Sinatra, who herself is a star in her own right, has written a very loving tribute to her famous Dad and "her hero" on the Afterword. I would single out a quote from her that I found so moving, here goes. . .
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