Frank DeVol / Frank DeVol & His Orchestra

Portraits

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Frank DeVol's debut Columbia Records long-player was a hit among early stereophiles, despite its being rooted in the tamer pop sounds of its era. One of the more restrained examples of space age pop of the late 1950s, the mix of lush strings and twangy guitar -- even on so tame a work as "Chances Are" -- nonetheless delighted listeners, and the rich close brass, horn, reed, and percussion textures for "On the Street Where You Live" were just what those late-'50s sound-freaks liked. What's more, they hold up today, even if the concept behind the title has been slightly obscured by time -- the selections all represent DeVol's sound portraits of his various fellow Columbia artists, from Johnny Mathis and Rosemary Clooney to Tony Bennett and Mitch Miller, the leader/arranger applying his talents to their best-known hits. "You Belong to Me," representing Jo Stafford, offers a swinging arrangement across a lush range of sounds that still manages to capture the singer's presence, once-removed. And the most interesting and subtle moment comes when DeVol manages to evoke the presence of Erroll Garner on "Dreamy" without imitating his piano sound. The whole record is nearly as much fun 50 years on as it was at the time of its release, and still very rewarding on its own terms or as a showcase for DeVol's talents.