Keely Smith: Keely Swings Basie Style...with Strings (2002)
Surrounded by a bevy of the West Coast's top studio performers, an army of lush strings and tastefully selected popular song gems brilliantly arranged by Dennis Michaels, Frank Collett and Don Menza, Keely Smith shows that she hasn't lost a jot of that wonderful feel for swinging equaled by few of her peers over the years. Still possessing that voice which sang Little Girl Blue to the rough Big Bad Wolf pipes of Louis Prima, this Concord album shows why Smith continues to be one of the most remarkable and amazing jazz singers on today's jazz scene, even in her 7th decade. Her rendition of "Take the ‘A' Train" is a primer on the use of tempo change as an interpretative technique. Solos on tenor and trombone by Don Menza and Andy Martin respectively, are icing on this very musical cake. She catches perfectly the torchy requiem to thankless love in W. C. Handy's "St. Louis Blues." The up tempo chorus continues full steam ahead, pull out all the stops throughout the session with cuts such as "Lover", "April in Paris" (with a dubbed in "One more time" by Count Basie) and "Can't Take My Eyes Off You". Smith had very few opportunities to sing ballads when she was playing foil for Prima's comic antics. There are some on this CD. Especially heart warming and wrenching are "You Go to My Head", and "One for My Baby (and One More for the Road".) On the latter, her singing creates an unforgettable picture of her spilling her woes to that silent, sympathetic bartender called Joe.
This a well conceived CD by one of the finest jazz singers of today's era, or any era for that matter. Highly recommended.
Track Listing: Intro, Voice Over, April in Paris; April in Paris; You Go to My Head; How Sweet it Is (to Be Loved by You): Happiness Is a Thing Called Joe; Lover; How High the Moon; I Can't Stop Loving You; Cherokee (Indian Love Song); Mood Indigo; Some of These Days; Love for Sale; One For My Baby (and one More for the Road); Can't Take My Eyes Off You: St. Louis Blues; Take the "A" Train; The House I Live in/Star Spangled Banner; Tag, Voice Over, April in Paris
Personnel: Keely Smith - Vocals; Dennis Michaels - Piano/Leader; Sal Lozano, Lanny Morgan - Alto Sax; Pete Christlieb, Don Menza - Tenor Sax; Bob Efford - Baritone Sax; Frank Szabo, Carl Saunders, Wayne Bergeron, Pete Candoli - Trumpet; Andy Martin, Chauncey Welsch - Trombone; Bryant Byers - Bass Trombone; Jim Self - Tuba; Kirk Smith - Bass; Steve Barnes - Drums; Barry Zweig - Guitar; Frank Collett - Piano; Large String Section