Louis Prima had been leading orchestras for 25 years when, in 1954, he finally got something that turned out to be the biggest break of his career: a late-night lounge act at the Sahara Hotel. It certainly wasn't a coveted gig, but it soon became the hottest ticket in town, with a dynamite stage show that featured Prima, the combination fireplug and master of ceremonies; his wife Keely Smith, a talented vocalist with both power and rhythm; and one of the tightest small groups in swing, the unduplicated Sam Butera with his band, the Witnesses. Then, when Capitol furnished a recording contract, the magic could be heard by more than just pleasure-seeking tourists to Sin City. Jump, Jive an' Wail: The Essential is the best document of Prima's Capitol years -- despite some heavy duplication, it beats even the excellent Capitol Collectors Series volume, which never included Prima's famous Jungle Book feature, "I Wan'na Be Like You (The Monkey Song)." The set borrows liberally from all of Prima's best Capitol LPs (even including two songs from 1967 's Louis Prima on Broadway for United Artists), and grabs the singles that were most popular (especially his duets with Smith on "That Old Black Magic" and "I've Got You Under My Skin").
Jump, Jive An' Wail: The Essential Review
by John Bush