David Osborne

Tribute to Frank Sinatra

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David Osborne is hardly the first person to pay tribute to Frank Sinatra, and it is safe to assume that he won't be the last. Sid Mark, a veteran DJ whose Philadelphia radio show plays Sinatra's recordings exclusively, put it best when he stated that the 20th century officially ended when Sinatra died on May 14, 1998 -- in other words, Mark was saying that Sinatra was traditional pre-rock pop's voice of the century. And it is safe to assume that jazz and traditional pop artists will be recording Ol' Blue Eyes tributes for decades to come. On this 2002 release, Osborne puts an acoustic jazz pianist's instrumental spin on songs that are associated with Sinatra. Some of the gems picked by Osborne (who forms a trio with bassist Danny DeMorales and drummer Paul Mason) were embraced by Sinatra and countless others; Sinatra recorded excellent versions of Sammy Cahn's "Time After Time" and Jerome Kern's "The Way You Look Tonight," but so did many other vocalists (both pop and jazz). However, "New York, New York," "My Way," "Witchcraft," "Fly Me to the Moon," "Strangers in the Night," and "The Lady Is a Tramp" are gems that Sinatra really defined -- when those songs are mentioned, Sinatra is the first person who comes to mind. That doesn't mean that they should be off limits to other singers, but it does mean that they will forever be associated with Sinatra, whom Osborne salutes with very lyrical and melodic yet swinging performances. Osborne isn't a cerebral player à la Bud Powell, Herbie Nichols, or Barry Harris; he has the sort of light, delicately swinging touch that used to be called "cocktail piano." Not a five-star masterpiece but generally pleasant, this CD is worth checking out if you're a Sinatra fan who happens to like acoustic jazz piano.

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