Sammy Davis Jr., with Count Basie,
Our Shining Hour
(Polygram, 1965; 1994)

Sammy Davis Jr. singing songs arranged by Quincy Jones to the accompaniment of Count Basie and his orchestra -- this recording could not possibly be anything but fantastic. I prefer Sammy's finger-snapping, toe-tapping showstoppers, but every so often it's nice to sit down and listen to the world's greatest entertainer relax and sing some slow jazz songs.

The musical accompaniment here is, in a word, excellent; rather than overshadow Sammy's singing, it actually heightens the amazing effect of his singular vocal stylings (although Count Basie gives us a "blow, man, blow" moment in "Girl from Ipanema"). Of course, these aren't all slow and tender vocal musings; a listen to "Work Song" or the sizzling "She's a Woman (W-O-M-A-N)" proves that.

Several of these songs were quite unknown to me up until now, but among those I am familiar with are the golden oldie classic "Teach Me Tonight," the swinging "New York City Blues" and "Keepin' Out of Mischief Now," which appears here in a much smoother, slower version than I have heard Sammy sing elsewhere. Of course, Dean Martin's "You're Nobody Till Somebody Loves You" is no stranger to my ears, but Sammy really brings a fresh new interpretation to this classic Dino hit.

The other songs included here are all fantastic, but the final track is especially interesting. Sammy requests a little buck dance (also known as buck and wing) music in honor of his dad and uncle and then tap dances his way through "Bill Basie Won't You Please Come Home."

When Our Shining Hour is over, Count Basie says something to the effect of "It can't get no better than that." That statement sums this album up perfectly.

- Rambles
written by Daniel Jolley
published 10 May 2003

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