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September 2000

Keely Smith
Swing, Swing, Swing
Concord Records

Keely Smith, a Las Vegas star with the Louis Prima Band in the '50s and '60s, is back on the scene, sounding better than ever in front of the roaring, Los Angeles-based Frankie Capp Orchestra. Her voice is strong and supple, sailing over wailing horns and a tight rhythm section anchored by drummer Capp.
The Virginia-born singer has a distinctive style, easily recognized by her habit of singing "I" as "Ah" and "my" as "mah," as well as her tendency to infuse humor with lyrics. This is infectious music made for dancing, its upbeat sound created by the dynamic arrangements of pianist Dennis Michaels, who also conducts.
Many of the 16 tracks are a retrospective of Smith's hits with Prima, most notably "When You're Smiling/Sheik of Araby," "Jump, Jive an' Wail" and "Let the Good Times Roll." Her incredible vocal energy is inexhaustable, as is proven when she matches powerful trumpet-section figures on "Yeah, Yeah, Yeah." The absolute standout is Prima's hit "Swing, Swing, Swing (Sing, Sing, Sing)," popularized by Benny Goodman. It's included twice, in arrangements by Michaels featuring Don Menza on clarinet, Capp's bold percussion, Andy Martin's resonant trombone and trumpeter Pete Candoli stretching for the stratosphere. Bold and exuberant, this is my pick for swing album of the year.

Originally published in September 2000
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