“A major, major album for me. Frank hadn’t made a record in a long time. It took a year to convince him to do it. Quincy helped me, his manager helped me. Frank and I would meet up in Palm Springs, Palm Beach, Palm somewhere – Palm Sunday. [Laughs] I had him almost ready to do a live recording in New York, and eventually I came at him with a different concept: duets.
“He bought into it, but he was constantly checking me, checking why. I remember Mo Ostin told me, ‘Be careful. If you book the studio, he’s likely to come in and leave.’ Which he did – he came in, got uncomfortable, and he left. Eventually, it started happening.
“I put a list of artists together for Frank to ‘duet’ with; he didn’t sing live with anybody. But I'll tell you, when we did the first date with Frank, it was pretty amazing. It brought such a smile to his face. He said, ‘I don’t know how you do this. I didn’t believe you could.’ The whole thing was like putting the greatest canvas of a crossword puzzle together.
“None of the singers held back. Because of the way we recorded it, we could switch around when Frank sang and when he didn’t. He had pretty much given us carte blanche to do what we wanted. The funny thing is, everybody was betting against this record: ‘You can’t do a duets record if they’re not singing together in the same room. It’s not believable.’ The counterpoint to that is, years later, I did a duets record with Tony Bennett with everybody live in the room, because Tony hated not being in the same room with Frank.
“Frank was very happy with the album, and we took a lot of pride in his feelings for it. We got some criticism for some things, but I look at it as the artists’ interpretations of what it was like to sing with Frank Sinatra.”