How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.
Keely Smith sounds better than ever. Her comeback has proven that. Surrounded by a lush studio orchestra that includes L.A. big band regulars, the singer creates a lovely tribute to Frank Sinatra. It was recorded before he passed, and Sinatra was able to listen to an early release. He liked it too.
Smith and Sinatra have much in common: phrasing, expression, a touch of humor, and a sincere love for what they do. The pair recorded a few items together over 30 years ago. Now in her late 60s, Smith sounds great. The sentiment of this tribute album, however, can bring tears to your eyes. "My Way," "Angel Eyes," "All the Way" and "It Was a Very Good Year" make pointed statements. "Goodbye" features English horn, flute and clarinet melodies over a dreamy landscape. The soulful ballad brings a big sigh from the listener. But Keely Smith can't help being herself. In several places throughout the session she lets slip a few funny lines. On "Until the Real Thing Comes Along," it sounds as if she's singing:
"I'd try to hit high C for you. Frank, I'd even punch a photo thief for you."
Keely Smith knew Frank Sinatra well, and has created a warm tribute. As with Swing, Swing, Swing, she's surrounded herself with a fine lineup of studio artists. Brief, but effective, solos come from Andy Martin, Wayne Bergeron and Don Menza. Frank Collett's searing arrangement of "Come Rain or Come Shine" stands out for its genuine vitality. A charming singer with an outgoing personality, Keely Smith still has the chops to please any audience.
Track Listing: South of the Border; I've Got a Crush on You; Night and Day; A Lovely Way to Spend an Evening; Come Rain or Come Shine; The Music Stopped; I'll Never Smile Again/Dream; I've Got You Under My Skin; Angel Eyes; New York, New York; Without a Song; All the Way; This Love of Mine; Until the Real Thing Comes Along; Goodbye; It Was a Very Good Year; My Way.
Personnel: Keely Smith- vocals; Rick Baptist, Wayne Bergeron, Pete Candoli, Conte Candoli, George Graham- trumpet; Alan Kaplan, Andy Martin, Thurman Green- trombone; Dana Hughes- bass trombone; Sal Lozano, Steve Wilkerson- alto saxophone; Pete Christlieb, Don Menza- tenor saxophone; Jack Nimitz- baritone saxophone; Gene Cipriano- woodwinds; Frank Collett, Dennis Michaels- piano; Chuck Berghofer- bass; Frankie Capp- drums; Dale Anderson- percussion; Jerry Vinci- concertmaster, violin; Brian Leonard, Debbie Price, Maurice Dicterow, Yoko Matsuda, Murray Adler, Russ Cantor, Jackie Suzuki, Tamsen Beseke, Razdan Kuyumjian, Daniel Shindarov, Mari Tsumura- violin; Harry Shirinian, Jorge Moraga, Margot McLaine, Dianne Gilbert, Marina Manukian, Jody Rubin- viola; David Shamban, Jodi Burnett- cello.