Ol’ Blue Eyes’ Twinkle
On the extraordinary Mark Tremonti Sings Frank Sinatra (27 May 2022; Take Chance Charity), Creed and Alter Bridge star Tremonti has swapped the protagonism of his PRS Signature guitar for his voice - and what a voice he has.
The idea that a heavy rock guitarist could dare to release an album of Sinatra songs, for example, is in fact the driving force behind Tremonti’s new fundraising initiative, Take A Chance For Charity, which seeks to give people with a public profile a chance to get out of their comfort zone. Tremonti Sings Sinatra is the first in a series of projects, which in this case, seeks to raise money for the National Down Syndrome Society (NDSS).
The reason that Tremonti chose the NDSS, and has decided to act now, is because his own daughter, Stella, was born with the syndrome last March, and because the guitar hero has always harboured a place in his heart for Ol’ Blue Eyes. “For years, Iʼve loved singing along to Frankʼs songs,” Tremonti says. “One night, I found an old video of him performing ʻThe Song Is Youʼ from 1944. It made me want to dive into his vocal approach. When we found out about our daughter Stellaʼs diagnosis, the stars aligned. My obsession with Sinatra had its reason. I decided to do this record to raise funds for families and individuals with Down syndrome. This project is the start of a new purpose that I will have for the rest of my life.”
Another extraordinary aspect of Tremonti’s project is that his own manager, Tim Tournier, had taken lessons from Sinatra guitarist Dan McIntyre, and that McIntyre not only committed himself to the cause, but also brought in Sinatra's own band leader Mike Smith. Confirmation that Tremonti’s voice could do justice to the songs received its final seal of approval when The Frank Sinatra Estate backed the project. All that was left then was for Tremonti to go and buy a sharply-tailored suit and don a tie.
Smith, however, wanted to go much further when they first met to record Luck Be A Lady, by passing Tremonti the same kind of tea that Sinatra drank before singing, with a specific quantity of lemon in it. Sparing no detail, he then “handed me Frank's actual vocal chart with his name on top of it," says Tremonti. "I tried to give it back, and Mike said, 'I want you to have this to get that mojo.' It was unbelievable to be working with the guys who were actually on stage with him.”
The homage kicks off though with I’ve Got You Under My Skin, and you can tell immediately that Tremonti has the voice nailed. The challenge is to be restrained at the right moments and allow the orchestra space, but then unleash as the song builds. Tremonti is self-effacing about his achievement: "It's one of my favourites to tackle on karaoke night!," he says.
Tremonti wanted to do more than just cover Sinatra’s best known songs and so he includes others, such as Wave, which happens to be one of his personal loves. “It’s a great example of Frank using the lower register of his voice," Tremonti says. On some occasions, the cover is reworked, such as on In The Wee Small Hours Of The Morning, while for the most part he doesn’t seek to depart too much from classics such as I’ve Got The World On A String, My Way, Fly Me to the Moon and That’s Life.
What stands out in listening to Tremonti Sings Sinatra is his incredible attention to detail – he reportedly spent hundreds of hours studying the original material – and the love he put into the project. Raising money for good causes is clearly one of the main reasons for this, but the other is also clear: “My daughter has already made everyone around her a better person,” he explains. “To do this for her means the world to me.”
More info: https://tremontisingssinatra.com/