Sammy Davis Jr: I Gotta Right To Swing! (1960): “

A member of the Rat Pack and an icon of cool, the multi-talented Sammy Davis Jr (singer, dancer, actor, and comedian) was known throughout his career as ‘the world’s greatest entertainer’. When in search of artistic freedom Frank Sinatra founded Reprise Records in 1960. He was quickly joined by the performers whose style he personally admired like Duke Ellington, Rosemary Clooney as well as fellow Rat Packers Dean Martin and Sammy Davis Jr. who was to spend nearly a decade with the label. He is captured here at his high-flying best on ballads, show tunes and standards.
The conventional assessment of Sammy Davis Jr. presents him as a Swiss army knife type of performer — a skilled impressionist, fantastic dancer and effortless comic whose shows never centered on any one thing, least of all his singing. That’s a slight because though he lived in Sinatra’s shadow, Davis (1925–1990) had an innate knack for deepening and personalizing the songs sung by every other saloon singer.
‘I Gotta Right to Swing’ is among the best showcases for Davis and one of the unfairly overlooked gems of the vocal swing era. Recorded with an uncredited Count Basie Orchestra
(minus pianist Basie) it finds Davis executing blues, jazz and R&B (one of the hottest tracks is his version of Ray Charles ‘I Got a Woman’) with a blithe panache and an enviable sense of timing. Davis couldnt escape the Sinatra influence — virtually everyone making vocal records from the late 50s forward borrowed something from the Chairman — but here, before entering what might charitably be called his ‘schmaltz phase’, Davis swings in his own sweet way. At once coy and exultant he delivers Duke Ellingtons ‘Do Nothin Till You Hear from Me’ with a rough-and-tumble sense of rhythm. Though he occasionally panders to the Vegas showroom faction of his audience (check out ‘The Lady Is a Tramp’), Davis compensates with an agility and exuberance that cranks the already hot band up a few notches. Put this on whenever you want to demolish the argument that swing singing begins and ends with Sinatra.
The Basie band play backing charts provided by Sy Oliver, Jack Pleis and Davis’s musical director, Morty Stevens.
Side 1:
01) The Lady Is A Tramp
02) I Gotta Right To Sing The Blues
03) Get On The Right Track baby
04) Do Nothin’ Till You Hear From Me
05) I Got A Woman
Side 2:
01) There Is No Greater Love
02) Gee Baby, Ain’t I Good To You
03) This Little Girl Of Mine
04) Till Then
05) Face To Face
06) Mess Around

(Via Kelly’s Lounge Soundz.)

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