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When Keely Smith sings "I've Got A Right To Sing The Blues, you believe her because she's the kind of woman whose authority goes un-argued. But in a way you doubt her because she's also the sort of lady who would always find her way around the blues. Actually, there's very little blues to be had on her new album Vegas '58 - Today. In fact, aside from a few velvety ballads, the band, the audience, and the star are having nothing but fun.
Recorded live at the posh Park Avenue nightclub Feinstein's at the Regency, Vegas harkens back to "the old Sahara Lounge days of 1958, as Smith tells us on the recording. Those were the glory days for Mrs. Louis Prima, when she and her husband held court at Las Vegas' hottest joints performing for the likes of Frank Sinatra and Sammy Davis Jr. The nine-piece band swings hard on Prima favorites like "Jump, Jive And Wail! and "Basin Street Blues, and the singer lights up the disc with her sassy stage persona. She runs a boisterous camp, often imploring the audience to make noise and sing along.
Arrangements by Billy May sway with glistening orchestration. Piano keys tinkle shyly on "Sweet And Lovely, while the horns blow polished and bright and Ms. Smith sings slowly and thoughtfully. She's graciously touching with her deep buttery voice, but her strength lies in her spunk and this she displays enthusiastically with a medley of Italian tunes Prima made famous. With festive flair she sings briskly through "Angelina, "Che La Luna and "Zooma Zooma and when she has to, careens through the Italian language with only a slight slip up.
The humorous way Smith delivers a phrase prompts many a laugh and the personal confessions and anecdotes she lets us in on throughout the album, make us feel like we're all part of the club.
Track Listing: Opener: I Wish You Love [instrumental]; When You're Smiling/The Sheik of Araby; I Gotta Right to Sing the Blues; Talk; Medley: Basin Street Blues/When It's Sleepy Time Down South; Talk; More Than You Know; Lazy River; Talk; Don't Take Your Love from Me; Jump, Jive and Wail!; Sweet and Lovely; Buona Sera; Medley: Angelina/Che la Luna/Zooma Zooma; Talk ; Just a Gigolo/Ain't Got Nobody; Medley: I Wish You Love/That Old Black Magic; Introductions; What Kind of Fool Am I?; Closer: I Wish You Love [instrumental]
Personnel: Kenny Ascher Synthesizer; Jack Bashkow Alto Sax; John Chudoba Trumpet; Joe Cocuzzo Drums; Chip Jackson Bass; Dennis Michaels Piano; Jimmy O'Conner Trumpet; Jerry Vivino Tenor Sax; Ben Williams II Trombone
Jazz is a continuing revelation. The best show I ever attended was the
Roots Picnic at Penn's Landing in Philadelphia, or was it Robert
Glasper's Experiment at Lincoln Center, or was it Chick Corea with
Brian Blade at Oberlin College? Most of all I enjoy playing guitar and
composing beats with my Brooklyn-based group Space Captain.