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Reviewers: Don Mather, Dick Stafford, Marc Bridle, John Eyles, Ian Lace, Colin Clarke, Jack Ashby


Keely Swings Basie –style

Concord Records CCD-2138-2


  1. April in Paris (Intro.)
  2. April in Paris
  3. You Go to My Head
  4. How Sweet it is (To Be Loved By You)
  5. Happiness is a Thing Called Joe
  6. Lover
  7. How High the the Moon
  8. I Can’t Stop Loving You
  9. Cherokee
  10. Mood Indigo
  11. Some of These Days
  12. Love for Sale
  13. One for My Baby (And One More for the Road)
  14. Can’t Take My Eyes Off You
  15. St Louis Blues
  16. Take the A train
  17. The House I Live In/Star Spangled banner
  18. Tag-Voice Over-April In Paris

Dennis Michaels – Leader –Piano
Sal Lozano, Lanny Morgan – Alto
Pete Christlieb, Don Menza –Tenor
Bob Efford – Baritone
Frank Szabo, Carl Saunders, Wayne Bergeron, Pete Condoli – Trumpet
Andy Martin, Chauncey Welsch, Bryant Byers –Trombone
Jim self – Tuba
Kirk Smith – Bass
Steve Barnes – Drums
Barry Zweig – Guitar
Frank Collett – Piano
There is also a 22-piece string section.
Recorded at studio A, Capitol Records, Hollywood CA July 2002.

Keely Smith is probably best known in jazz circles as the vocalist/wife of bandleader Louis Prima, but she has recorded with the Basie Band and has many albums of quality songs to her credit. In this new album she is featured with the kind of orchestra that would be difficult to assemble outside of Hollywood. All the musicians are out of the top draw of California session men. The arrangements are by Don Menza, Dennis Michaels and Frank Collett, each has a library of Big Band arrangements to his credit. Concord certainly spared no expense in the making of this album.

How did it shape up? The arrangements are all first-class and the standard of musicianship immaculate. There are some nice solos included from the likes of Don Menza –Tenor, Andy Martin – Trombone and Pete Chrisrlieb – Tenor and there is some excellent section work by a band with a rhythm section that always swings whatever the tempo. The link with Basie is tenuous however, few of the arrangements could be described as in the Basie style. The programme consists of favourite standard tunes, which Keely selected for this occasion. The introduction and play off give the impression that this record is the music for a TV programme or Hollywood show, it even includes the patriotic Star Spangled Banner ending, which is so often used for that type of show.

As to Keely herself, I met a friend this morning who feels that this record puts her on a par with Ella Fitzgerald and Sarah Vaughan. I think that even Keely would agree that that is something of an exaggeration, she has a pleasing voice and I found the record very enjoyable, but an Ella she isn’t. That isn’t to say that she isn’t a good singer, she most certainly is and I found this a most enjoyable album. It features good songs, new and interesting arrangements and it made me feel good to think that a major record company is prepared to put its money into a quality album of this type. We should surely all support them by buying it!

Don Mather




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