Sammy Davis, Jr.

It's All Over But the Swingin'

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Throughout his life, Sammy Davis, Jr. was often derided as a Frank Sinatra clone, and while this just isn't true, It's All Over But the Swingin' was his biggest attempt at aping his friend and mentor's Capitol Records sound. What critics of Davis forget is that Sinatra's Capitol recordings defined 1950s vocal jazz so much that everyone from Ella Fitzgerald to Sarah Vaughan to Billie Holiday were appropriating everything from the chairmen's arrangers, song selection, and cover concepts. An upbeat downer disc, It's All Over But the Swingin' actually finds a middle ground between Sinatra's suicidal torch song and medium-tempo swing albums, with Morty Stevens' arrangements gamely appropriating both Nelson Riddle's orchestral and big band styles, while the top-rate band is composed of such Sinatra/Riddle regulars as Harry Edison, Joe Comfort, and Milt Bernhart. This may give the album demerits in the originality department, but it does make for a great-sounding session that features hot solos throughout, and Sammy Davis, Jr. does a wonderful job of combining a real jazz feel with his more stereotypical, outsized-Broadway singing style. Davis can't beat Sinatra on "I Guess I'll Hang My Tears Out to Dry" and "It Never Entered My Mind," but his swinging reading of "But Not for Me" may just be the definitive uptempo version of the standard, and his scat intro and complex tempo changes throughout "I Can't Get Started" show that Davis was equally at home at Birdland as he was on Broadway. Incidentally, the album was released with two different covers that mimicked the look of Sinatra's Capitol albums: One release sported a horrible painting of Davis looking depressed on a park bench, while the other substituted this with the photograph of a white man looking morose on a bench in a town square. This fine album is a must-have for fans of Sammy Davis, Jr.

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