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Keely Smith

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Album Review

Joining the Louis Prima band at the age of 16, Keely Smith's main role was to be the foil for Prima's often loony antics on recordings and at live performances, like on their big hit "That Old Black Magic." The result was that she was given little opportunity to sing ballads. That ended when she and Prima signed on with Capitol Records, which had more top flight pop vocalists of the day than any other company. This LP is the second of the albums Capitol released under her name featuring arrangements and a band headed by Billy May. The program balances up-tempo numbers and ballads with matching May orchestrations. The slower numbers are enhanced by strings, while the faster numbers feature Mays's trademark fluttering flutes juxtaposed with blaring brass. Smith had an easy to listen to vocal style. One of its major qualities was the earnestness with which she delivered each song, regardless of tempo. This left the impression that she sincerely believed in each word of the lyrics. Like other vocalists of the 1960 "the song was the thing," and its use in promoting the singer took a back seat. This especially comes through on "East of the Sun (And West of the Moon)" and an eloquent "I'll Get By."


Born: 09 March 1932 in Norfolk, VA

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s

Keely Smith is mostly known as the duet partner of Louis Prima, she took the straighter role in their raucous, just-this-side-of-parodical blends of jazz, jump blues, and Italian pop, on record and in their Vegas-oriented shows. Smith, however, was also a reasonably talented singer of straight pop material, although not in the same class as the leading female vocalists of the 1950s. Her most respected solo recordings...
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Politely!, Keely Smith
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