Frank Sinatra, though not a jazz singer, was long respected by jazz musicians for his natural ability to get the best out of a song while developing a trademark approach to singing that had great appeal. While many recorded tributes to Sinatra since his death have been abysmal at best, vocalist and guitarist John Pizzarelli knows a little something about swinging and finding the essence of each song. Backed by the Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra, with whom Pizzarelli toured prior to the making of this CD, along with arrangements by John Clayton, Don Sebesky, Dick Lieb, and Quincy Jones, he sought to focus primarily on songs written with Sinatra in mind, though taking new approaches to each of them. Dear Mr. Sinatra opens with an over-the-top rendition of "Ring-A-Ding-Ding." Clayton's sensitive writing for reeds provides the perfect backdrop for Pizzarelli's warm vocals in "If I Had You." The singer works magic in another fine Clayton chart, "I've Got You Under My Skin," delivering the goods in a sensitive interpretation. Pizzarelli is backed only by pianist Tamir Hendelman in the miniature scoring of "The Last Dance," which serves as a perfect finale. Only three of the tracks clock in at over four minutes, so there's not much of a focus upon instrumental solos, though Pizzarelli's guitar is featured in "Witchcraft." With a total time just under 40 minutes, the program is a little short by CD standards, but the performances by John Pizzarelli and the Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra in this warm tribute to Old Blue Eyes are consistently of high caliber and hit the mark every time.
AllMusic Review by Ken Dryden