David Hajdu
October 02, 1992 AT 04:00 AM EDT

Perfectly Frank

Current Status
In Season
Tony Bennett
Pop, Jazz

We gave it a B

His way is so singular that Frank Sinatra has managed to create a pop oeuvre of his own even though he’s not a songwriter. Paying formal homage to his longtime mentor’s work, Tony Bennett sings two dozen Sinatra standards in Perfectly Frank, from signature songs (”Night and Day”) to tunes that subtly suggest the Sinatra style (”Here’s That Rainy Day”). The challenge serves Bennett well: His phrasing is more reflective, his tone less harsh than usual. His judgment is still loopy, though: He upends the giddy ”I’ve Got the World on a String,” for example, as a languid ballad. The backing — pianist Ralph Sharon’s trio — is tastefully well intentioned but generally lethargic. It is moving to hear one of the last great classic-pop singers pay tribute to one of the first. But, gee, hasn’t Tony Bennett been doing that for 40 years? B

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