Friday, May 29, 2015

#59: One of the great romantic ballads

It's Irving Berlin's 1931 classic, "How Deep Is The Ocean?" gorgeously rendered by Sinatra and Riddle for their 1960 album, Nice 'n' Easy:

There was a time when I might have dismissed this as corny and boring. Silly me. Sinatra delivers a rivetingly romantic performance, blending one line into the next over and over with mesmerizing effect. For once, I'm not wishing for a swinging version.

Riddle crafted a schmaltz-free arrangement, making brilliant use of George Roberts' bass trombone. Charles Granata writes:
On the touching ballad "How Deep Is the Ocean?" the bass trombonist plays as though he were a second vocalist. "I listened to Frank for so long, that I really did want to play my instrument the way he sang," Roberts says. "One of the most important things to me was, and still is to this day, to make the bass trombone important; in a sense, being a vocalist on the horn. I want to have the same kind of charisma that Frank has -- what a style that is! That's classy stuff. . . . (Sessions with Sinatra, p 88)
Roberts recalled feeling "petrified" when called on by Riddle to play "the little jazz piece" in the middle of "Makin' Whoopee," but we'll save that for later.

"How Deep Is The Ocean?" is the fourth Irving Berlin song and fourth track from Nice 'n' Easy to appear on my list, so far.

For more Sinatra, check in frequently with Mark Steyn, Bob Belvedere, and Ms. EBL

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