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The Wham of Sam

Sammy Davis, Jr.

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Album Review

Not to be confused with the 1961 Reprise album of the same name, the 1994 Sammy Davis, Jr. reissue The Wham of Sam! brings together the prime cuts of the artist's early-'60s collaborations with arranger Marty Paich and his Dek-Tette. The combination of Davis' varied and rhythmically sophisticated vocal delivery and Paich's involved yet very swinging arrangements produce consistently high quality performances over the 12 tracks here. Unfortunately, these sessions would not set the pace for Davis' subsequent output, as he opted to satisfy the record industry's hunger for one-dimensional pop covers instead. On The Wham of Sam sessions, Paich was following up on his justly famous Dek-Tette recordings with a singer more successful at transcending pop trends, Mel Torme. Davis, though, found his own voice by the late '50s, and Paich spotlights the mature style here by playing to his unerring sense of rhythm and fine ballad phrasing. On both "Too Close for Comfort" and "Falling in Love With Love," the artist deftly glides in and out of fast tempo changes without compromising his Torme-like elastic phrasing. He does justice to some well-worn ballads as well, with his renditions of "My Romance," "Soon," and "Blame It on My Youth" ably demonstrating his wide vocal range amidst the unfettered support of Paich's economical arrangement. "Can't We Be Friends" and "Bye Bye Blackbird" turn a bit noir-ish, as Davis' loping and smoldering voice glide above the nocturnal pulse of Joe Mondragon's walking bass. The Wham of Sam! could well be the one Sammy Davis, Jr. collection which spotlights practically all his many vocal talents, so both new fans and old should have this one in their collection, not least of all for the somewhat rare chance to hear how the artist could shine with stellar backing and top-drawer arrangements.

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Swings!

Yeah Baby

Biography

Born: December 8, 1925 in Harlem, New York, NY

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '20s, '30s, '40s, '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s

Recognized throughout much of his career as "the world's greatest living entertainer," Sammy Davis, Jr. was a remarkably popular and versatile performer equally adept at acting, singing, dancing, and impersonations — in short, a variety artist in the classic tradition. A member of the famed Rat Pack, he was among the very first African-American talents to find favor with audiences on both sides of the color barrier, and remains a perennial icon of cool. Born in Harlem on December 8, 1925, Davis...
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The Wham of Sam, Sammy Davis, Jr.
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