A Change of Pace for Prima
mario pugliese | Toronto, Ontario Canada | 06/29/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Louis Prima is primarily known today for his nightclub act with his wife Keely Smith, and Sam Butera and his Witnesses. Of course Louis Prima fans love to "jump, jive, and wail" to favorites like I've Got You Under My Skin, and That Old Black Magic. However Louis Prima does have a gentler side, and yes believe it or not, he did make "beautiful music".This CD, a collection of songs from two albums from the early 1960's presents Louis' lilting trumpet in a lush orchestral setting with cascading strings, and vocal chorus. Louis had a hit with a cover version of the Bert Kaempfert standard, Wonderland By Night, which is presented here along with other well known standards. Although Louis' playing range is limited in comparison with his jazz contemporaries, (no high notes or creative improvisation here folks) he does have a unique style and surprisingly strong feel for what has become known as lounge music. If you are only interested in the loud and manic Louis, you will not find him in this CD. On the other hand, if you are more open minded and broad in your musical tastes, and have an appreciation of "pretty music", then this CD will please you. You won't be able to jive, but you can sure foxtrot."
Definitely not Prima Style
mario pugliese | 10/27/1998
(2 out of 5 stars)
"This recent re-issue by Jasmine Records is not your typical Prima recording. Orginally released as a two part series, "Pretty Music Prima Style, Volume 1" seems to be more in the "Prima Style." He adds a touch of his personality to it, rather than the drab "Wonderland By Night: Pretty Music Prima Style Volume 2." Though neither really stand out on high, there are some great cuts on both albums. From the first, "My Luanne" (co-written with then wife Keely Smith for their daughter) is quite touching and definitely "pretty." Another Prima composition "A Sunday Kind of Love" (which is better on Sam Butera's "Tribute to Louis Prima Vol. 2") also does well. The songs are intricately developed, but the major downside is that Sam and the Witnesses are absent from these recordings, and violins and electric organs just don't cut it with Prima. And where, exactly, is Keely??? "Wonderland By Night" is more or less a Bert Kaempfurt cover from 1961, but somehow, Prima's version reached number 18 on the charts. Other songs of worth on this album are "You and the Night and the Music." What really makes these recordings drag is the lack of vocals on both LP's from Prima or Smith. "Wonderland By Night" has some background crooners, but nothing major. The question that lingers in your mind after listening to this CD is: "Is this really Prima at all? And if it is, what was he thinking?""