Nathan Granner and TheWeeSmall
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Nathan Granner and TheWeeSmall

Kansas City, Missouri, United States | INDIE

Kansas City, Missouri, United States | INDIE
Band Classical


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The best kept secret in music


"Wee Small Hours: Sinatra on Acid"

Posted on 15 August 2010 by Don Adams
I’ve made my way in the Kansas City music scene largely through a process of association. I find an interesting artist, then track what else they’re doing, which usually turns out to be doing much more than one would expect,

Such is the case with Nathan Granner. An operatic tenor by training, he is truly a creative artist by temperament: a crosser of boundaries that hold other people back.

I was confused by his early “Wee Small Hours” announcements. Only when I showed up at the recordBar did I learn that the first “concept album” produced, by Frank Sinatra in 1955, in the wake of his mutually devastating breakup with Eva Gardner. Sixteen songs, including such favorites as “What Is This Thing Called Love?” and and several renditions of such Rogers & Hart hits as “Glad to Be Unhappy,” Sinatra was in this recording apparently performing a kind of public purging of his own feelings around love lost.

Backed up by four fine musicians (Gerald Spaits, bass; Scotty McBee, drums; Greg Singleton, guitar; and P. Alonzo Conway, percussion, sax and others) and working with arrangements by a fifth — composer/arranger and keyboardist Jeffrey Rukaman — Granner presented us a radical 21st Century reinterpretation of Sinatra’s concept. But we’re not talking some musical museum-piece: this is Sinatra, just back from Venus and dropping acid. You’ve got to hear and see this to believe it.

Fortunately, you have two more chances this month: Granner and his company of musicians will present Wee Small Hours twice again, at Jardine’s on Friday, August 27, at 8 pm and Sunday, August 29th ($12 cover, with some discount for all 3 shows those nights). Show up, fasten your seat belt and take it all in.

P.S. It wouldn’t hurt to revisit Sinatra’s recording and/or lyrics in advance: despite the enormous power of Granner’s voice, the pure power of his backup group and of the recordBar’s outstanding sound system (not to mention my hearing loss) made it hard sometimes to make out the lyrics — and yet, the overall effect is dazzling. - KCPerforms

"Wee Small Hours: What a Concept"

Nathan Granner and Jeffrey Rukaman bring classic songs to life.
Story by Tom Ryan.
Published: Friday, August 13, 2010
My father, Toddy Ryan, gave me many gifts. One of them is music. In our “west-end” Chester, Pennsylvania row house dining room was the Hi-Fi, housed in a cabinet that Dad made from a sheet of mahogany plywood in 1958. Beneath the compartment where the Zenith sat was where the albums resided behind the shellacked deep cherry stained double doors. One of those albums was In the Wee Small Hours, Frank Sinatra’s Capitol records release of 1955, arranged by Nelson Riddle. Some look to this as the first “concept” album. I called Toddy today to discuss the album and Nathan Granner’s upcoming shows featuring that music, newly arranged by Jeffrey Rukaman.

Nathan Granner

Catch Wee Small Hours: August 15th at the recordBar…8 PM; August 27th and 29th at Jardine’s…8 PM. Cover is ten bucks, Mack.

Hear more songs from Wee Small Hours.

Sixteen elegant songs serve as the centerpiece of this show; songs with great melodies and intelligent poignant lyrics. Rukaman has taken these songs and infused them with contemporary beats, electrified instrumentation, and energy that would have gotten Sinatra evicted from his wee small hours bar at 3 AM. These ballads, quietly atmospheric on the 1955 LP, during his post-breakup sadness with Ava Gardner, now have a theatrical quality with more light and drama thanks to Granner and Rukaman.

Contemporary art forms that take sacred classics, imbuing them with youth and fresh eyes, through lenses and mediums of the present tense are beyond tribute in a way. Tribute bands may imitate, but like Andy Warhol and others, artists have the opportunity to reshape and display what once was and make it something exciting; what is. We can touch the generational fingertips of our friends and family with art like this. We can experience memories with music and even create new ones.

My Mom and Dad danced to these songs at places like the 500 Club and Steel Pier in Atlantic City. So, while we sit and listen to Nathan, keep in mind that some of these songs encouraged luscious slow dancing; sensual sounds that literally moved people. The music moves Dad still and he talks about those dances, the record hops in the firehouses in Philly, and Mom. She could dance.

I’m curious to hear this live updated rendering, wishing that my Dad (88) could sit beside me and absorb this. Dad’s not up to the trip, but I may make a cassette for him (he’s not online or iPod’ing). I’ll listen intently, Daddy O, but I’ll want to dance.

You can listen to a recorded session preview of this new Wee Small Hours creation on ustream . I can’t wait to see this live, thanks to Nate, the Ruk, and Spoonblender.

By the way, Dad still has a copy of the concept album of my generation, Tommy, a few inches away from Wee Small Hours in the Hi-Fi cabinet in his attic in Avalon, New Jersey…

Sinatra’s original 1955 track listing for these great songs…be advised that the show will place this list in shuffle mode…

Side one
"In the Wee Small Hours of the Morning" (Bob Hilliard, David Mann) – 3:00
"Mood Indigo" (Barney Bigard, Duke Ellington, Irving Mills) – 3:30
"Glad to Be Unhappy" (Richard Rodgers, Lorenz Hart) – 2:35
"I Get Along Without You Very Well (Except Sometimes)" (Hoagy Carmichael, Jane Brown Thompson) – 3:42
"Deep in a Dream" (Eddie DeLange, Jimmy Van Heusen) – 2:49
"I See Your Face Before Me" (Howard Dietz, Arthur Schwartz) – 3:24
"Can't We Be Friends?" (Paul James, Kay Swift) – 2:48
"When Your Lover Has Gone" (Einar Aaron Swan) – 3:10

Side two
"What Is This Thing Called Love?" (Cole Porter) – 2:35
"Last Night When We Were Young" (Harold Arlen, Yip Harburg) – 3:17
"I'll Be Around" (Alec Wilder) – 2:59
"Ill Wind" (Arlen, Ted Koehler) – 3:46
"It Never Entered My Mind" (Rodgers, Hart) – 2:42
"Dancing on the Ceiling" (Rodgers, Hart) – 2:57
"I'll Never Be the Same" (Gus Kahn, Matty Malneck, Frank Signorelli) – 3:05
"This Love of Mine" (Sol Parker, Henry W. Sanicola, Jr., Frank Sinatra) – 3:33

For you audiophiles and vinyl lovers: In November of 2009, Capitol Records, LLC, re-issued this album in its original 16-song LP format. The LP was officially recalled by Capitol in December, 2009, due to an unusual production error: At the end of side one, the song "I Guess I'll Have to Change My Plan" errantly replaced "When Your Lover Has Gone". Also, the 2009 reissue LP uses the "wet" 1960s mix that has added echo/reverb on Frank Sinatra's voice. The original LP pressings from the mid to late 1950s and the early 1980s 10 track budget reissue LP contain the "dry" mix. - Present Magazine


Still working on that hot first release.



Operatic tenor Nathan Granner, one of Sony/BMG Masterworks recording trio “The American Tenors,” has put together a new counter-classical band called “TheWeeSmall,” headed by avant-pop composer Jeffrey Rukaman.

For WeeSmallHours, Nathan Granner and TheWeeSmall take the 16 classic songs from Sinatra’s 1955 smash record “In the Wee Small Hours” and re-imagine them in one sense a classic song cycle. On another level, it is the new world of classical music, the triple-dip pop show that ranges from stadium rock fantasy, comic cavalcade to emotionally impactful performance. The "I didn't know you could do that." leaves audiences literally gasping in surprise and cheering.

The impeccably crafted arrangements of Jeffrey Rukaman are masterfully played by Gerald Spaits on electric and standup Bass, Scotty McBee on Drums, Greg Singleton on Guitar, and P. Alonzo Conway on Percussion and a plethora of instruments, as well as Rukaman himself, and Nathan Granner, who is his own instrument.

From Tibetan Monk to David Coverdale to Torme’, Sinatra or Buble’, not to mention the warm tone of his classical chops, Granner’s voice delivers emotion and words as if he’s lived every single note.