195

Keely Smith: Swing, Swing, Swing

Ed Kopp By

Sign in to view read count
Though Keely Smith appeared in many films and recorded with Count Basie and Frank Sinatra, she's best known as Louis Prima's deadpan sidekick and longtime vocal foil. Smith and Prima were such fixtures on the Las Vegas strip in the '50s and '60s that Smith still claims the title "First Lady of Las Vegas." (She was also Prima's fourth wife.)

Swing, Swing, Swing is a comeback album for Smith, now 68, and it's clearly an attempt to cash in on the swing craze. Though the music revels in Vegas-style kitsch, it also swings ferociously, and Smith is in fine form with a voice that hasn't changed much since 1958. With Swing, Swing, Swing, she manages to revive the Italian scattin' spirit of Louis Prima, no easy task for a woman of Irish-Indian descent.

Backing Smith is The Frank Capp Orchestra, an expanded version of the Frank Capp Juggernaut, an underrated Basie-style big band. Drummer Capp and company roar through these 16 tracks with style and intensity. Smith may not be a top-flight jazz singer — she's more Eydie Gorme than Ella Fitzgerald — but her alto voice is still a sultry and distinctive instrument, and she still scats with the best of them. Most importantly, she knows how to throw a great party.

The first eight tracks here swing as hard as anything I've heard since Lisa Stanfield's big band release of 1999. The album is laden with songs made famous by Prima and his jumpin' band Sam Butera and the Witnesses. There's "When You're Smiling/The Sheik of Araby," "Robin Hood/Oh Babe," "Jump, Jive An' Wail" (lately revived by Brian Setzer and that Gap commercial), and Prima's most famous composition, "Sing, Sing, Sing" (two versions of which are included under the title "Swing, Swing, Swing").

The band comes on too strong in spots, and the kitsch wears thin on goofy tunes like "Yata Hei" and "Giddy Up Ding Dong." Still, Smith sets your toes to tappin' and puts a big smile on your face with this one.

Big Bad Voodoo Daddy and the Cherry Poppin' Daddies got nothin' on Keely Smith.


Track Listing: When You

Personnel: Keely Smith- vocals; Sal Lozano, Danny House- alto saxophone; Don Menza- clarinet, tenor saxophone; Pete Christlieb, Joel Peskin- tenor saxophone; Jack Nimitz- baritone saxophone; Frank Szabo, Rick Baptist, Carl Saunders, Pete Candoli- trumpet; Andy Martin, Charlie Loper, Charlie Morillas- trombone; Jim Self- trombone, tuba on "Yata Hei" and "Palm Springs Jump;" Chuck Berghofer, Richard Simon- acoustic bass; Ken Wild- electric bass; Pat Tuzzolino- guitar, backup vocals; Frank Capp- drums; Don Williams- percussion; Dennis Michaels- piano, backup vocals; Toni Prima, Luanne Prima- backup vocals.

Title: Swing, Swing, Swing | Year Released: 2000 | Record Label: Concord Music Group


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read The Way of It CD/LP/Track Review The Way of It
by Jack Bowers
Published: November 19, 2017
Read Tag Book CD/LP/Track Review Tag Book
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: November 19, 2017
Read Hide Ye Idols CD/LP/Track Review Hide Ye Idols
by Troy Collins
Published: November 19, 2017
Read Spavati, Mozda Sanjati CD/LP/Track Review Spavati, Mozda Sanjati
by Nenad Georgievski
Published: November 19, 2017
Read Estonian Suite: Live In Tallinn CD/LP/Track Review Estonian Suite: Live In Tallinn
by Bruce Lindsay
Published: November 18, 2017
Read Queen City Blues CD/LP/Track Review Queen City Blues
by Mike Jurkovic
Published: November 18, 2017
Read "Pekka" CD/LP/Track Review Pekka
by Friedrich Kunzmann
Published: October 26, 2017
Read "Playing the 60s" CD/LP/Track Review Playing the 60s
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: January 19, 2017
Read "Back In Your Own Backyard" CD/LP/Track Review Back In Your Own Backyard
by Budd Kopman
Published: March 25, 2017
Read "Imaga Mondo" CD/LP/Track Review Imaga Mondo
by Troy Dostert
Published: August 23, 2017
Read "The Long Slog" CD/LP/Track Review The Long Slog
by Dave Wayne
Published: January 11, 2017
Read "Songs We Like" CD/LP/Track Review Songs We Like
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: September 2, 2017

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.

Please support out sponsor