Keely Smith: Keely Swings Basie-style with Strings (2002)
Keely Smith sounds as sweet and sprightly as ever. Recorded earlier this year, she interprets classic standards with a Southern California “who’s who” of big band artists in support. Recalling the legendary Count Basie Orchestra and adding strings, the album makes a genuine tribute to a powerful force in jazz’s history. Frank Collett’s swinging arrangement of “I Can’t Stop Loving You,” in particular, revives the embers with a hot hand. Standout soloists from the orchestra include Pete Christlieb on Smith’s slow and sultry interpretation of “How High the Moon,” and Andy Martin on two big band burners. The musical arrangements emphasize Basie’s swinging balance of solid brass, mellow saxophones, and a steady rhythmic foundation. A passionate medley of “The House I Live In” and “The Star-Spangled Banner” serves as a timeless reminder of everything jazz stands for. It’ll put tears in your eyes. While the program doesn’t fare as intimately as her nightclub performances do, Smith does bring back that familiar Basie sound with a unique flair that’s all her own. Highly recommended, this one offers something special for big band lovers as well as for those who appreciate a superb vocalist.
Track Listing: 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
Personnel: Keely Smith- vocals; Dennis Michaels- leader, piano; Sal Lozano, Lanny Morgan- alto saxophone; Pete Christlieb, Don Menza- tenor saxophone; Bob Efford- baritone saxophone; 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; Ray Kobler- concertmaster, violin; Kirstin Fife, Amy Hershberger, Jim Stark, Jennifer Walton, Karen Jones, Liane Mautner, Irina Voloshina, Haim Shtrum, Ronald Folsom- violin; Ray Tischer, Carrie Holzman, Carolyn Riley- viola; Cecilia Tsan, Dane Little, Stephanie Fife- cello; Mike Valerio- double bass; John Magnussen- percussion; Brad Kintcher, Paul Klintworth, Trish Skys, Ian Donald- French horn.