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Vegas '58 - Today (Live)

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Album Review

The proposition of deep freezing a late-'50s gig by Louis Prima and Keely Smith with accompaniment by Sam Butera & the Witnesses — which usually earned its tag, no small praise, as the Wildest Show in Vegas — and thawing it nearly 50 years later is a risky one; specifically, it risks losing most of the energy that made the show so special in the first place. Nevertheless, when Keely Smith's booking agent, Allen Sviridoff, suggested that she resurrect the sound and feel of a vintage Prima/Smith show for a live appearance, she agreed. Recorded for the Concord label, Vegas '58 — Today can't help but pale next to the real thing. Most importantly, absent are Prima's volcanic performance personality and Butera's powerful band; in the show, Smith functioned as a cool flame, an able foil for all the exuberant action going on around her. Her 2004 band is energetic and powerful enough, and they do a solid job of recycling some of Prima's own arrangements for his standards like "Basin Street Blues," "Lazy River," "Jump, Jive, an' Wail," and "That Old Black Magic." And Smith makes the date as loose as her old shows with Prima, laughing and giggling and even good-naturedly sharing her possible lack of judgment in trying to reprise Prima's vocal performances herself (which she then confirms by performing them). She does still shine on the material she performed with the classic show, such as "Don't Take Your Love from Me," "That Old Black Magic," and a breathless closer, "What Kind of Fool Am I?"

Customer Reviews

Fabulous

This woman has such a powerful voice that it's disarming. Absolutely gorgeous tone. The lady knows what she's doing. For being a live album (recorded at Feinstein's at the Regency in NY, no less), this one is spectacular and her "talks" are engaging and funny. She's one of the last great girl singers, and they should definitely be treasured. I highly recommend this album to you.

Classic

Keely Smith is an American classic. Her best work was earlier in her career - but her phrasing and vidid ability to paint a picture in song is rivaled only by June Christy, Ella Fitgerald and Sara Vaughn.

Live in Vegas

My parents loved Keely & Louie. After a unforgettable midnight show in Vegas they vowed to name their next child (girl) "Keely"
At introductions I may include , "after Keely Smith"
Jazz enthusiasts reply,
"Oh We loved Keely & Louie"
It gives me great honor to explain to those who ask, "Where did your parents get that name."

Biography

Born: March 9, 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...
Full Bio
Vegas '58 - Today (Live), Keely Smith
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