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Capitol/EMI to Release Swingin' New Hits Collections for Louis Prima and Keely Smith

SOURCE: Published:
Jump, Jive An' Wail: The Essential Louis Prima Presents 26 of the Grammy-Winner's Best, Including “I Wan'na Be Like You (The Monkey Song)," “Jump, Jive An' Wail," “Just A Gigolo/I Ain't Got Nobody," and “Buona Sera"

Keely Smith: The Essential Capitol Collection Features 27 Tracks, Including a Previously Unreleased Live Recording and Duets with Prima and Frank Sinatra



Hollywood, California - On July 17, Capitol/EMI will release new single-disc hits collections for Louis Prima and Keely Smith on CD and digitally, featuring the best solo and collaborative work of the formerly married big band and swing music icons.

Jump, Jive An' Wail: The Essential Louis Prima gathers 26 of the late Grammy winner's classics, including “I Wan'na Be Like You (The Monkey Song)," which makes its first-ever appearance on a Prima compilation, “Jump, Jive An' Wail, “Just A Gigolo/I Ain't Got Nobody," “Buona Sera," and “Just One Of Those Things." Known as the “King of the Swingers," Grammy Award winning Louis Prima swung his way to icon status thanks to an infectious sound whose appeal translated across generations.

Keely Smith: The Essential Capitol Collection features 27 of Smith's best recordings, including a previously unreleased live version of “When Day Is Done" from the Sahara with an intro by Prima, and two classic duets with Frank Sinatra. This ultimate single-disc collection also includes many of her most sought-after solo recordings with orchestral direction by Nelson Riddle and Billy May.

Discovered in New Orleans in 1934 by bandleader Guy Lombardo, Louis Prima's breakthrough year was 1935, when he garnered rave reviews at The Famous Door in New York, packing the club with his down-homey slant on jazz and his hilarious - and somewhat suggestive - approach to the art of singing. Prima moved to Hollywood later that year, and before long, he was a bi-coastal sensation co-starring with Bing Crosby in Paramount's Rhythm On The Range. He began crisscrossing the country with a big band, playing the same venues as the Dorseys, the Millers, and the Goodmans.

By the early '50s the big band era had cooled. Prima survived by paring down his group and hitting the road on one-nighters. His ace-in-the-hole was his new girl singer, a 16 year old christened Dorothy Jacqueline Keely who joined his act as Keely Smith.

Prima and Smith performed a dizzying five shows a night at the Sahara Hotel's Casbar Lounge in Las Vegas, beginning at midnight and ending at 6am. They married, and for the rest of the '50s reigned supreme on The Strip. Prima moved the show to the main room at the Sands for a reported three million dollars. Recording contracts at Capitol Records followed, where they made the most famous recordings of their careers, many recorded live by Capitol's state-of-the-art remote facilities.

Perhaps Louis Prima's most durable recording - due to the sheer number of generations it has transcended - is his jaunty take on “I Wan'na Be Like You (The Monkey Song)." His musical legacy, solidified by the brilliant work he did at Capitol, is radiantly captured on this consummate collection. Prima's vital influence on the swing genre continues to this day.

Less than a week after Prima's group cut its first Capitol recordings, Smith was recording solo with none other than arranger extraordinaire Nelson Riddle. “I Wish You Love" became the title track of her debut LP and was nominated for a 1958 Grammy in the Best Female Vocal category. She lost out to one of her idols, Ella Fitzgerald, but she and Prima won the award that year for Best Vocal Group for their landmark recording of “That Old Black Magic." As part of Prima's entourage, Smith was Louis' 'straight-man' supreme, flinging zingers and musical counterpoints to his shouts and verbal anarchy. On her own, she was a high priestess of the art of pop singing.

Besides the I Wish You Love collection, Smith made two other superb solo albums for Capitol, Politely with the masterful Billy May and Swinging Pretty, her second collaboration with Nelson Riddle. She added to her recording legacy with a group of first-rate albums for Dot and Reprise throughout the 1960s, before devoting the rest of the century to rearing her children. With the new millennium, she began recording again for Concord Jazz, releasing a series of highly regarded albums.

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