Cover image for Sessions with Sinatra : Frank Sinatra and the art of recording
Sessions with Sinatra : Frank Sinatra and the art of recording
Granata, Charles L.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
Chicago : A Cappella, [1999]

Physical Description:
xvii, 238 pages : illustrations, music ; 26 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
ML420.S565 G73 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area
ML420.S565 G73 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks-Non circulating

On Order



Frank Sinatra was not only the greatest popular singer of the century--he was also the ultimate recording artist. In addition to introducing and perfecting a unique vocal style, he was also his own in-studio producer--personally supervising every aspect of his recordings, from choosing the songs and arrangers to making minute adjustments in mike placement. One of the thrills of listening to Sinatra is wondering how he did it--and this book explains it all, bringing the dedicated fan and the casual music lover alike into the recording studio to glimpse the fascinating working methods he introduced and mastered in his quest for recorded perfection. Featuring 100 photographs of Sinatra working with orchestras and arrangers, listening to playbacks, and, of course, singing, Sessions with Sinatra tells the whole story of how he created the Sinatra sound and translated the most intense personal emotions into richly worked-out songs of unrivalled expressiveness.

Author Notes

Historian/archivist Charles L. (Chuck) Granata is one of the leading authorities on the music of Frank Sinatra. He is a voting member of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences and resides with his family in Livingston, New Jersey.

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

Frank Sinatra lives on in his recordings and, less directly, in the books about him, a flood that has yet to abate. Unlike the Sinatra-as-celebrity titles, this one focuses on the music, examining the singer's career in the recording studio. A painstaking researcher, Granata has overseen the restoration of Sinatra's vintage recordings and recaps key recording sessions in documentary detail, showing that Sinatra supervised everything from song selection to microphone placement. He illuminates Sinatra's work by analyzing his distinctive vocal qualities and depicting his relationships with songwriters and other collaborators; above all, he extols the contributions of Sinatra's arranger of choice, Nelson Riddle. By clearly explaining technical developments from the wax discs used in Sinatra's early sessions to the digital process that allowed him to collaborate with other superstars on his final project, Duets, Granata also provides a pocket history of modern sound recording. Finally, by showing how much thought and effort Sinatra put into his recording sessions, Granata reveals how seriously--despite his breezy, devil-may-care persona--he took his craft. --Gordon Flagg

Publisher's Weekly Review

Granata, producer and director of Sinatra's Columbia recordings, offers a rare glimpse into the work that went into making the Sinatra sound. He covers all the technical details, from Sinatra's early pioneering of the microphone as instrument to transcripts of his many studio directions and casual late-night jokes. Granata summarizes the major recording eras in Sinatra's career, from the Columbia years (1943-1952) to his Duets work in the mid-1990s with singers such as Bono and Chrissie Hynde. With a foreword by adoring sound engineer Ramone and afterword by Nancy Sinatra, this testimony to Sinatra's studio time is weakened only by its unwavering homage. But much can be read between the lines. What is said (Sinatra is quoted, "You can never do anything in life quite on your own.... Making a record is as near as you can get to it") and what can be extrapolated (Sinatra did not, perhaps, appreciate the debt owed to songwriters, musicians, producers and arrangers) can make for good reading. Late in the book, Granata confesses, "Sinatra's personal relationships with the musicians were complex.... Maybe Sinatra feared the old adage, `Familiarity breeds contempt.'" It's evident throughout that Sinatra asserted his ideas and ego masterfully, creating his unique sound and image with an iron will. Those who enjoyed Bill Zehme's book on Sinatra's style, The Way You Wear Your Hat, will welcome this look at the technique, skills and behind-the-scenes action involved in one of the longest, most successful singing careers in U.S. history. 100 photographs. (Nov.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Table of Contents

Phil RamoneNancy Sinatra
Forewordp. ix
Introductionp. xiii
Part I The Big Band Years, 1937-1942
Beginningsp. 1
Discoveryp. 3
The First Recordingsp. 5
The Dorsey Stylep. 8
The Voicep. 10
The Songsp. 14
The Microphonep. 17
Wax Impressionsp. 25
Part II The Columbia Years, 1943-1952
Making the Breakp. 29
Taking Chargep. 31
Charting the Wayp. 33
Anatomy of a Recording Sessionp. 35
"Body and Soul": Evolution of a Performancep. 39
The Columbia Studiosp. 42
The Concept of Albumsp. 47
Diversity Personifiedp. 48
In Pursuit of Perfection: The Singer as Producerp. 50
Triple Threat: The Cutting Edge of Technologyp. 57
Sound on Soundp. 57
The Birth of the LP Recordp. 59
The Magic of Tapep. 64
Sinatra Swings!p. 66
Downward Spiral: The Mitch Miller Influencep. 69
Part III The Capitol Years, 1953-1962
A Capitol Thoughtp. 79
Sinatra in Hollywoodp. 81
Frank Meets Nelsonp. 85
The Teamp. 87
A Musical Marriagep. 92
Dynamic Duop. 98
The Hottest Ticket in Townp. 102
My Buddyp. 106
The Capitol Studios: 5515 Melrose Avenuep. 109
The Capitol Studios: Hollywood and Vinep. 114
Model of Perfection: Close to Youp. 118
From Mono to Stereop. 126
With Gordon Jenkinsp. 132
With Billy Mayp. 134
Melancholy Serenades: Only the Lonelyp. 138
Season of Discontentp. 143
Manic Depression: Come Swing with Me and Point of No Returnp. 146
Part IV The Reprise Years
Chairman of the Boardp. 153
Ring-a-Ding-Ding! and Sinatra and Stringsp. 156
Great Songs from Great Britain: The London Sessions, 1962p. 163
Frank and Splank (Sinatra and Basie)p. 168
Tour de Force: The Concert Sinatrap. 171
Early Autumn: The September of His Yearsp. 174
Straddling the Line: Rock 'N' Roll Sinatrap. 179
"Somethin' Stupid"p. 183
Francis A. and Edward K.p. 188
Middle of the Roadp. 189
Elder Statesmanp. 190
Part V Capitol Revisited
Duetsp. 203
Full Circlep. 209
Afterwordp. 213
Appendix A Companion Recordingsp. 218
Appendix B The Basic Collectionp. 220
Appendix C Concept Albumsp. 222
Appendix D Fifty Songs That Define the Essence of Sinatrap. 225
Acknowledgmentsp. 227
Bibliographyp. 229
Indexp. 233