Michael Feinstein returns to Benaroya Hall with Sinatra
Michael Feinstein's "Sinatra Project," coming to Seattle's Benaroya Hall on July 27, 2012, isn't just all about Frank Sinatra. There's also some Dean Martin and Ann-Margret kicking around in there, too.
Seattle Times arts writer
Michael Feinstein8 p.m. Friday, Benaroya Hall, 200 University St., Seattle; $40-$96 (206-215-4747 or www.seattlesymphony.org).
Michael Feinstein's latest CD, "The Sinatra Project II: The Good Life," is not, strangely enough, all about Frank Sinatra. It makes room, too, for a twisted, distinctly non-Sinatra ditty about the upside of making it through an "H-bomb" explosion.
Why is the lone male survivor so happy?
Because he has all 13 surviving women to himself.
And where did "Thirteen Women," the CD's peppy opener, come from?
From the B-side of Bill Haley and Comets' hit "Rock Around the Clock," by way of Ann-Margret (who recast it as "Thirteen Men").
Other items on Feinstein's eclectic new recording also have strong associations with other singers. "Sway" belongs irretrievably to Dean Martin. "Once in a Lifetime" (no, not the Talking Heads song) was a signature tune for Sammy Davis Jr.
Still, Feinstein's tribute to Sinatra is evident in his covers of such classics as "The Lady Is a Tramp" and "The Way You Look Tonight," along with lesser-known ballads, including "I'll Be Around" and the CD's title track (also a hit for Tony Bennett).
When Feinstein brings his crackerjack 17-piece band to Benaroya Hall on Friday, he'll perform songs from "The Good Life," no doubt. But he'll also, as always, be digging deep into the American songwriting canon.
Feinstein is a dedicated song archivist, collecting and preserving all the vintage recordings, sheet music and orchestral arrangements he can. But he's passionate, too, about preserving this music by playing it live.
He champions live performances on a couple of fronts. One is his New York club, Feinstein's at Loew's Regency, which fills the gap left by the defunct Rainbow Room and the Oak Room at the Algonquin. The other is his own rigorous touring schedule.
If the new CD is anything to go by, he'll be in robust voice on the up-tempo big-band numbers. But he also has a silkier delivery on the slower piano ballads that calls to mind the melancholy side of Martin or the hushed phrasings of Chet Baker.
One droll feature of the new CD that can be hard to wrap your head around is the number of adamantly heterosexist numbers ("Thirteen Women" is the jauntiest offender) that the openly gay Feinstein takes on with such conviction. His recent collaboration with former Seattleite Cheyenne Jackson, "The Power of Two," plays it more sophisticatedly gay. Their zesty harmonizing on "Me and My Shadow" is a particular treat.
Maybe once Feinstein wraps up his big-band Sinatra tribute, he and Jackson, a veteran of our own 5th Avenue Theatre, will find a way to bring their nightclub act to town.
Michael Upchurch: email@example.com