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Sammy Davis Jr./Buddy Rich: The Sounds of '66

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Sammy Davis Jr. opens these after-hours Las Vegas recording sessions, remarking that even at this hour the town is still swinging. He tells listeners that any noises from the audiences are real, not canned. From this simple setup, this release captures live the excitement these two musical dynamos generated in an era, and in a town, when music was made at all hours, night and day.

In fine form, Davis, as talented a performer as he was enigmatic a personality, projects the opening up-tempo "Come Back to Me with brass and bravado, the Buddy Rich Orchestra accompanying him in full cry. This is not a band (or a drummer for that matter) for a timid singer, and Davis clearly relishes the megawatt setting.

The repertoire mixes contemporary pop songs, show tunes, and popular standards. Even though "I Know A Place (a hit at the time for Petula Clark) suffers from a dated arrangement, it still merits a listen today through the sheer musical will of the performers. Much better is Bacharach and David's "What the World Needs Now, where the sound level drops a notch to let the story come through. Show tunes include a marvelously sung "What Did I Have That I Don't Have Now as well as the singer's appealing swagger through Frank Loesser's lovely "Once in Love with Amy, abetted by bracing orchestral fills. Although all hands threaten to go over the top on the Latinate "What Now My Love, the singer pulls back before succumbing to excess.

Davis, of course, owns the patent on "What Kind of Fool Am I? and turns in a knowing, swinging, sure-footed performance; a song he must have sung countless times emerges fresh. Perhaps it was the encroachment of dawn that mellowed things a bit. "Fool, "If It's the Last Thing I Do, and the warhorse "Please Don't Talk about Me When I'm Gone showcase the singer and the orchestra at their most restrained, yet still in the groove. The air of excitement does not not wane, but a drop in decibels enhances the level of simple expression. Davis, Rich, and company are captured in a fine mood on these 1966 desert mornings.

Track Listing: Come Back to Me, I Know a Place, What Did I Have That I Don't Have?, What the World Needs Now, Once in Love with Amy, Ding-Dong the Witch Is Dead, What Now My Love, What Kind of Fool Am I?, If It's the Last Thing I Do, Please Don't Talk about Me When I'm Gone

Personnel: Sammy Davis Jr., vocals; Buddy Rich, drums; Buddy Rich Orchestra: George Rhodes and Ernie Freeman, arrangers and conductors

Title: The Sounds of '66 | Year Released: 2005


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