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Frank Jr., the Unsung Sinatra

"There is no demand for Frank Sinatra Jr. records," Frank himself is saying.

"There never has been. Rod Stewart is now doing the Great American Songbook. So is Harry Connick Jr. and Michael Bubl?. Well, Frank Sinatra Jr. has been doing it for 44 years."

His voice is without an ounce of self-pity.

He hunches his shoulders. He turns, on a dime, away. As if the world has become just too damn difficult for anyone -- much less a Sinatra -- to decipher such things anymore.

On the Boardwalk

He is here in Atlantic City for a two-night gig at the Hilton on the Boardwalk.

He comes through the back door, 20 minutes early for rehearsal. He's carrying his own bag. He's in a gray shirt, black slacks, and black shoes that rise above the ankle. He gives off the aura of a very serious man.

He opens his briefcase and takes out his song list and lays it on a table. He pours himself a diet soda. Andrea Kauffman, his manager, hands him some black-and-white photos to autograph and some payroll checks to sign.

The orchestra then rolls into several numbers. Lovely and vibrant. Frank makes little marks with a black pen in his notebook.

"Terry," Frank says to a band member, "that clarinet line on the end is beautiful. So simple. Like Bartok."

His talking voice sounds just like Big Frank's on all those old TV specials when it was Frank and Dean and Sammy and everyone wore bow ties and tuxes with skinny lapels and the cigarette smoke was thick as fog and Big Frank's only boy was at college in California.

He's been with many of these musicians for decades. Some played with Big Frank.

Frank blows out his version -- ghostly, sweet -- of "On a Clear Day."

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