July 16 - 19 '14 "Frankly Sinatra"

Date: August 20, 2014 Author: stevehunter Categories: Latest

I was asked by Albert Schultz, the artistic director of Toronto's Soulpepper Theater Company, to musical direct, arrange and play a show of and about Sinatra's music and life. He came up with a list of 22 songs, which included just about any big hit that you could associate with Sinatra, and a few gems that weren't. We met on June 26, finalized the set list, and then I spent over two weeks in my basement transcribing and arranging big band charts like "Fly Me To The Moon," "Come Fly With Me," "You Make Me Feel So Young," "I've Got The World On A String," "The Best Is Yet To Come," "It was A Very Good Year," "New York New York," "My Way," ...well you get the idea. I had to reduce everything down to piano, bass, drums, trumpet and one reed. Not easy to do. I basically spent all day every day 24/7 at my computer trying to knock off 2 charts a day. And through some great summer weather, which I had to ignore. And once something was arranged, I had to learn how to play and conduct it. Lot of work, but by July 14 it was done. The very interesting part was getting inside the heads of some of the great arrangers that Sinatra had. Nelson Riddle, Billy Mays, Quincy Jones and Gordon Jenkins. I learned a lot just figuring out all the individual parts, and how they were orchestrated. The gig was in Port Hope at the Capitol Theater, a charming small town and hour and a bit east of Toronto. Albert called the show, "Frankly, Sintara," and in between songs, he told the story of Frank's life. Something only Albert could do; what a talent!

I had Brian Barlow on drums, Dave Young on bass, Steve Crowe on trumpet, and Colleen Allen on flute, clarinet and tenor/alto saxophones. Great band - we had one 4 hour note rehearsal on Juluy 16, and it wouldn't have gone better. The more detail you put into the music, the easier it is for the band to play it first time, and I spent a lot of time detaling the music. Our first show was Thursday July 17, with three more shows in the next two days, and they all went really well. We also had some nice dinner's together as a band, and three of us were put up in a  nice old hotel in town. Friday after the first show was the first day I had had off in three weeks, and I almost didn't know what to do with myself. Ended up buying a nice old 1912 edition of some Tennyson poems. The crowds all loved the show, and now it's in the bag and I'm sure I'll end up doing it again at Soulpepper some time in the future.