Long the favorite of collectors, who have cherished their bootlegged copies of the concert for years, Frank Sinatra with the Red Norvo Quintet -- Live in Australia 1959 was finally released officially in 1997, nearly 40 years after the concert was given. In many ways, the wait was actually positive, because Sinatra's loose, swinging performance is a startling revelation after years of being submerged in the Rat Pack mythology. Even on his swing records from the late '50s, he never cut loose quite as freely as he does here. Norvo's quintet swings gracefully and Sinatra uses it as a cue to deliver one of the wildest performances he has ever recorded -- he frequently took liberties with lyrics while on stage, but never has he twisted melodies and phrasings into something this new and vibrant. The set list remains familiar, but the versions are fresh and surprising -- "Night and Day," where the song is unrecognizable until a couple of minutes into the song, is only the most extreme example. And the disc isn't just for the hardcore fan, even with its bootleg origins and poor sound quality -- it's an album that proves what a brave, versatile, skilled singer Sinatra was. It's an astonishing performance.
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AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine