Frank Sinatra: New York collects previously unreleased live performances in historic NYC locations; the DVD, for example, features an entire Carnegie Hall concert. During the 45-year time span that these recordings encompass Sinatra remained a fine singer, but eventually his attempts to stay current seemed strained: “If” and “Bad, Bad Leroy Brown” were beneath him, “You Are the Sunshine of My Life” never gelled, and by the late 1960s some tunes penned specifically for him fell so short you had to wonder if anyone still wrote songs The Voice was meant to sing.
That said, all seven performances are memorable, and partly because of the setting. When Sinatra sings “That’s Life,” “My Way,” and “New York, New York,” his Big Apple swagger is there in spades— but during the numerous and consistently engaging ballads and saloon songs we’re reminded that NYC has long been a great place to cry in your martini.
And if worthwhile new material proved increasingly elusive, with Sinatra the standards never sounded stale. Sonics are fine except for the two earliest recordings, but that’s when some of the best moments occur. Somehow Sinatra’s casual, off-the-cuff delivery during half- rehearsed performances with Tommy Dorsey and Skitch Henderson only underscores his artistry.