Frank Sinatra: Come Fly With Me

The hearty swingers and sighing ballads of Come Fly With Me are paired with the kickers of Come Dance With Me! along with three bonus tracks


Deja vu? Leon Nock briefly reviewed a similar compilation Come Dance With Me! / Come Fly With Me (Essential Jazz Classics) conducted and arranged by Billy May (plus three “bonus” tracks) in April 2022. This partial reissue has three different “bonus” tracks (conducted by Nelson Riddle).

Come Fly – Sinatra’s first collaboration with May – still has much to recommend it over 65 years since its first release. It included tongue-in-cheek versions of Isle Of Capri and The Road To Mandalay. The latter title was dropped from UK pressings because of Kipling’s daughter’s objection to the “adapted” lyrics, which include the lines:

By the old Moulmein Pagoda, lookin’ eastward to the sea,
There’s a Burma broad a-settin’, and I know she thinks of me

He told a Melbourne audience in 1959 that the song was taken from Kipling’s poem Mandalay but was deleted from the British LP and replaced by Chicago. “But this is an unusual version, it’s comedic, but it swings, it jumps. I think that Kipling’s sister [sic] was chicken not to let us put it on the record.”

The title track has Sinatra at his exhilarating best, with May’s textured backing. On the ballads – Autumn In New York and Moonlight In Vermont, May – famed for his slurping saxophones and screeching brass – demonstrates that he could also write sensitively for strings. Jimmy Van Heusen and Sammy Cahn contributed the opening and closing songs to a studio session that, as Will Friedwald comments, “alternates between stone-hard swingers and lovely and lush romantic pieces . . . tied together by the idea of sighing for exotic lands.”

Come Dance, an out and out swinger, also continues to delight. May provided the upbeat and immaculately realised charts and Sinatra indulged his increasing habit of changing accepted (if not sacred) lyrics as in Johnny Mercer’s Something’s Gotta Give, substituting “Basie boots” for “dancing boots” and “aw, let’s tear it up” for “something’s gotta give” as the last line.

Suggested sample tracks are Too Close For Comfort and The Song Is You. Drummer Alvin Stoller propels and enhances the proceedings, while Sinatra reveals his developing jazz credentials and gives his new hip/tough guy persona its first real outing. The only justifiable complaint is that these proceedings amount to only half an hour, while the three additional tracks have appeared on other albums, with Nelson Riddle listed as conductor and arranger. South Of The Border, I Love Paris and Chicago replace Nothing In Common; Same Old Song And Dance and How Are Ya Fixed For Love on the EJC Come Dance/Come Fly CD.

“An Appreciation” of Sinatra by Brian Morton and a brief biographical essay by Martha Allen enhance this slightly baffling but rewarding compilation.

(1) [Come Fly With Me] Come Fly With Me; Around the World; Isle Of Capri; Moonlight In Vermont; Autumn In New York; On The Road To Mandalay; Let’s Get Away From It All; April In Paris; London By Night; Brazil; Blue Hawaii; It’s Nice To Go Trav’ling; [Come Dance With Me] Come Dance With Me; Something’s Gotta Give; Just In Time; Dancing In The Dark; Too Close For Comfort; I Could Have Danced All Night; Saturday Night (Is The Loneliest Night Of The Week); Day In, Day Out; Cheek To Cheek; Baubles, Bangles And Beads; The Song Is You; The Last Dance; (2) South Of The Border; I Love Paris; Chicago (78.53)
(1) Sinatra (v); Bill May (con, arr); Harry “Sweets” Edison, Conrad Gozzo, Frank Beach; John Best (t); Babe Russin, Willie Smith; Joe Cook; Fred Fallensby, Arthur “Skeets” Herfert (s); Ed Kusby, Dick Noel, Tommy Pederson, Bill Schaefer (tb); Al Hendrickson (g); Bill Miller (p); Joe Mondragon (b); Alvin Stoller (d). Los Angeles, October 1957 and December 1958.
(2) Sinatra (v) with orchestra conducted & arranged by Nelson Riddle. KHJ Studios, Hollywood, 30 April 1953; Capitol Tower, Hollywood, 13 April 1960; Los Angeles, 13 August 1957.
20th Century Masterworks 17062