Sammy Davis, Jr.

Salutes the Stars of the London Palladium

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Fresh from a landmark five-week season at the Palladium in London, Sammy Davis, Jr. recorded an anthology paying homage to other luminaries who had graced the stage of the venerable venue. Clearly enthused by the warm reception he had received, Davis extended his stay in London long enough to cut a dozen selections that had been made famous by an eclectic variety of entertainers from both sides of the Atlantic. After a brief spoken "Introduction By Sammy Davis, Jr.," the vocalist eases into a midtempo finger-poppin' reading of "My Kind of Girl," a concurrently popular tune made famous by British balladeer Matt Monro. Without the guidance of Davis' usual musical director, Marty Paich, many of the nuances in his presentation are not enhanced. Not to worry, as Davis is unmistakably inspired throughout. The Peter Knight-arranged introduction to Duke Ellington's "Sophisticated Lady" is distinctive, foreshadowing a similarly dramatic style and sound incorporated into Knight's work on the Moody Blues' Days of Future Passed (1967) -- especially the prominently cascading woodwinds. Davis glides into a heartfelt rendering of "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" as the orchestration dances around the supple and emotive lead. Contrasting the ballads are a few swinging affairs, notably the humorous introduction to "Ballin' the Jack." Once Davis gets the tempo "nice and comfortable," he turns the track into a rousing barnburner, backed by a hearty brass section punctuating the score. Representing Frank Sinatra's contributions to the Palladium is "This Is My Love," an interesting choice as it is one of Ol' Blue Eyes' lesser-known pieces from the No One Cares (1959) collection. Another standout performance is the laid-back groove of "Lazy River," as it retains much of the same affable melodic bounce of the Mills Brothers' original. Davis would never revisit the concept of Salutes the Stars of the London Palladium, making this anthology one of the most diverse efforts from Sammy Davis, Jr.'s Reprise catalog.

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