Sam Butera

The Whole World Loves Italians

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Although he had already worked gigs as a member of such outfits as Ray McKinley's big band, Sam Butera's long career really began in 1954 when he joined Louis Prima. Using the same formula that was so successful when he was with the raucous, R&B-hyped Prima, Butera has continued to record and perform extensively. With his band the Wildest, this album highlights Butera's vocals and honking tenor sax. A nod to the album's Italian theme comes with the inclusion of such Butera workhorses as the wild, tongue-in-cheek "Che-La-Luna" and a gentler "Come Back to Sorrento," as well as an Italian phrase thrown in now and then. But this recording session was not limited to ethnic material. Butera's New Orleans roots are revisited with an R&B -- rather than traditional jazz -- version of "When the Saints Go Marchin' In." There are some classic standards on the play list as well, such as "I'm Confessin'," which Butera plays and sings straight with a raspy voice and style not unlike that of Louis Armstrong, and a string-enhanced, earnestly delivered "Unforgettable." "Misty" provides an opportunity for Butera to show that his sax need not always be strident, but can be sweet as well. So while this album is pitched toward the popularity of pseudo-Italian music and conventions, it has much more to offer, presenting the full range of Butera's skills as a musician.

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