Embraceable You/I Got It Bad/I’m In The Mood For Love – 1960

Louis Prima

A potent mixture of comedy and ballad singing

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Louis Prima was a memorable entertainer whose long career included periods playing New Orleans jazz, leading a swing big band, and becoming a giant hit in Las Vegas with his wife singer Keely Smith.

During the latter period which really took off in the mid-1950s, Prima mixed together swing tunes, his New Orleans trumpet, the r&b band of tenor-saxophonist Sam Butera, comedy, and the ballad singing of Keely Smith in a blend that would serve as one of the main inspirations for the Retro Swing movement of the 1980s and ‘90s.

Keely Smith’s singing was the perfect foil for Prima’s comedy, particularly when she adopted a deadpan expression; one wonders how she could keep a straight face during many of their routines.

During this performance on the Ed Sullivan Show in 1960 which is a medley of “Embraceable You,” “I Got It Bad,” and “I’m In The Mood For Love,” Prima’s ad-libs and craziness even get to Keely Smith, who cracks up several times along the way.

-Scott Yanow


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