Some records have their own charm, and this radio broadcast of Buddy DeSylva’s WISHING (WILL MAKE IT SO) has lingered in my ear since I heard it. Yes, it has historical import: it may be the first performance by a young Frank Sinatra with the Harry James band captured for posterity. But it’s not just the charm of youthful Francis — although that is considerable — but the relaxed looseness of the band, playing a new pop tune for the dancers. There is none of the cold scrutiny of the recording studio here; it’s as if the band is handing the material around to see how it works. What other arrangement can you recall where the first melody chorus is given over to chordal acoustic guitar?
I was initially charmed by the guitar of Brian “Red” Kent and the piano of Jack Gardner, then the gentle rocking momentum Harry leads the band into — a Basie groove with Buck Clayton trimmings . . . so perhaps you will also fall under the spell of this performance. And Sinatra just does it easily and beautifully.
Perhaps you can imagine being in front of the band at the Roseland, the warm evening of July 8, 1939, dressed for an evening out, with your delightful partner, enjoying Harry and his orchestra — a band that had made its first recordings only six months earlier.
Harry James and His Orchestra: Claude Lakey (alto and tenor saxophone), Dave Matthews (alto), Bill Luther, Drew Page (tenor), Claude Bowen, Harry James, Jack Palmer, Jack Schaeffer (trumpet), Russell Brown, Truett Jones (trombone), Brian “Red” Kent (guitar), Thurman Teague (string bass), Jack Gardner (piano), Ralph Hawkins (drums), Frank Sinatra (vocal):
I would have liked to have been there.
May your happiness increase!