Sinatra Tribute Night, Philharmonic Hall, Liverpool

It isn't every day that a vocalist gets a gig with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, complete with conductor John Wilson, as his backing group. It happened to singer Gary Williams on Saturday and he rose to the occasion magnificently and put on a memorable show recalling the music of arguably the greatest entertainer of all time, Francis Albert Sinatra. But this was not another booze and broads Rat Pack show built around the on-and-off stage shenanigans of Messrs Sinatra, Dean Martin and Sammy Davis Jnr in the Las Vegas of the 1950s and 1960s.

The Rat Pack series also featured some great music but John Wilson and Gary Williams have taken it a stage further and stripped away everything except the music which the pair have elevated to concert hall status.

With those famous scores by Nelson Riddle, Billy May and others meticulously transcribed from the original recordings, Gary Williams and the orchestra turned in superb performances of smooth ballads and energetic swingers.

For this concert the RLPO was augmented by a jazz rhythm section led by pianist James Pearson with Matthew Skelton at the drums and this provided the vital spark that fired up these challenging charts.

The orchestra was also heard in its own right on some pieces, one of which was Without a Song. This was a fine example of Nelson Riddle's writing talents which created a kaleidoscope of musical moods and textures. Gary Williams performed so many great songs that it would be difficult to pick out the best but his version of All The Way was particularly outstanding.

It was a truly memorable concert and a fitting tribute to Frank Sinatra and the composers, arrangers and musicians who served him so well.

By Stan Woolley, Daily Post

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