Known for his gentle crooning, lyrical wordplay, and fondness for Latin and Brazilian rhythms, Franks started as a folk singer before turning to jazz in the early 1970s. He made one self-titled record before beginning a 20-year association with the Warner Brothers label, where he had a series of pop crossover hits with songs including "Popsicle Toes," "The Lady Wants To Know," "Monkey See, Monkey Do" and "Your Secret's Safe With Me". Franks has recorded with with jazz musicians such as David Sanborn, Larry Carlton, and Joe Sample and Wilton Felder of The Crusaders, and his songs have been performed by The Manhattan Transfer, Patti Labelle, Carmen McRae, Diana Krall, Shirley Bassey, and many others. In recent years, Franks has made albums for Windham Hill, Rhino, and Koch, which issued his most recent CD Rendezvous in Rio back in 2006.
Our first clip today is a 1991 performance of "Down in Brazil," a song that seems to exemplify Franks' affinity for the music of that country. Next, we fast-forward to 2007, when Franks hooked up with saxophonist Eric Marienthal and guitarist Chuck Loeb to perform at the San Javier Jazz Festival in Spain. Both the second video, "Your Secret's Safe With Me," and today's third clip, "The Lady Wants To Know" are from that gig.
Finally, we catch up with Franks in Paris in July of this year for a performance of "Monkey See, Monkey Do" with a band including heavy hitters Mark Egan on bass and David Mann on saxophones, plus Charles Blenzig (keyboards), Willard Dyson (drums) and Veronica Nunn (vocals). (You can see some still photos from that Paris concert here.)