Deejay Jonathan Schwartz, the worshipful Saint Jon of Sinatra apostles, has been glorifying this much-anticipated live recording for months, as if it were some sacred revelation. True, Sinatra and Sextet: Live in Paris is a rarity: It captures the archetypal big-band singer in one of his few recorded performances with a small, jazz-oriented group. But if this is any sort of revelation, it’s not only nothing sacred, it’s downright idol-smashing.
While he was at Reprise, Sinatra kept this document of a 1962 date at Paris’ Lido theater out of posterity’s mitts. Then he jumped labels, spat out Duets, became an unexpectedly hot property again, and now Reprise is releasing Live in Paris. Its charm lies in snatching Sinatra in his most casual, loose-tie-and-cocktail form. But this is also its undoing.
First of all, the 46-year-old Frank is so loose here that he misses notes throughout the concert. Worse, he’s in one those moods. After a solid reading of ”Ol’ Man River,” he jokingly blurts, ”That was a song about Sammy Davis’ people.” He even stains a tribute to his host city, crooning ”I love Paris — holy Christ, but I love Paris.”
Maybe this schizoid razzmatazz had some Roland Barthes-style meaning to the French. Maybe this is what they mean by ”ugly beauty.” But, more to the point, who cares? Only Francophiles and Frankophiles. C+