The best thing about this compilation, subtitled Learnin’ The Blues, is the lengthy but totally absorbing essay by Simon Spillett that takes up most of the 30-page booklet.
Confronting the question of whether Sinatra was a jazz singer, Simon leans towards a positive answer by detailing many jazz musicians’ fondness of Sinatra (and his phrasing in particular) together with the singer’s reciprocation, which included his enormous affection for Billie Holiday and her music.
He also stresses the significance of Sinatra’s apprenticeship with Tommy Dorsey, an instrumentalist famous for his treatment of ballads rather than his improvising abilities.
Obviously enough all of the 25 tracks spread across these two CDs involve songs recorded by Sinatra. Whether or not that’s a good reason for bringing them together is for the individual to judge. Certainly there’s plenty of music of high quality.
Groups led by Art Blakey, John Coltrane, Miles Davis, Lou Donaldson, Harry Edison, Bill Evans, Art Farmer, Russ Freeman, Red Garland, Dexter Gordon, Freddie Green, Illinois Jacquet, J.J. Johnson, Richie Kamuca, Lee Morgan, Gerry Mulligan, Bill Perkins, Paul Quinichette & Charlie Rouse, Max Roach, Sonny Rollins, Wayne Shorter. USA, 1952-62.