Personnel includes: Keely Smith (vocals); Dennis Michaels (leader, arranger, piano); Don Menza (arranger, tenor saxophone); Frank Collet (arranger, piano); Sal Lozano, Lanny Morgan (alto saxophone); Pete Christlieb ( tenor saxophone); Bob Efford (baritone saxophone); Frank Szabo, Carl Saunders, Wayne Begeron, Pete Candoli (trumpet); Andy Martin, Chauncey Welsch (trombone); Bryant Beyers (bass trombone); Jim Self (tuba); Kirk Smith (bass); Steve Barnes (drums)
Recorded at Capitol Records, Hollywood, California in July 2002. Includes liner notes by Keely Smith.
The swing revival was custom made for singers like Keely Smith. Keely Swings Basie Style...With Strings follows 2000's Swing, Swing, Swing and 2001's Grammy-nominated Keely Sings Sinatra, capping off a trilogy of lovingly performed classic jazz. Smith's backward glance, however, isn't just pure nostalgia. Keely Swings Basie Style, for instance, begins with Count Basie-style arrangements and then applies them to a number of songs not necessarily associated with the bandleader. The addition of strings provides another distinctive layer. Smith begins with "April in Paris" and brings her warm vocals to bear on a number of other classics, including "Happiness Is a Thing Called Joe" and "How High the Moon." There's a particularly lovely take on "Mood Indigo" and a bouncy version of "Cherokee (Indian Love Song)." Smith balances these standards with spry contemporary fare like "How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved by You)" and "Can't Take My Eyes off of You." The closing number offers something of a surprise, beginning with "The House I Live In" and then flowing into "Star Spangled Banner," ending the album on a patriotic note. The combination of tasteful arrangements, good song choices, and Smith's pleasing vocals guarantees that fans will warmly embrace Keely Swings Basie Style. ~ Ronnie D. Lankford, Jr.