Sammy Davis, Jr. sings and Laurindo Almeida plays; that's the simple and amazing basis of this remarkable CD. On June 14 and 15, 1966, Sammy sat down with one incredibly talented guitarist and recorded this album of slow, gentle, moving songs. Sammy could swing and wail like no other, but he was more than anything else a truly blessed singer. There's no Las Vegas atmosphere here, no finger-clicking showstoppers, no adoring fans lavishing him with heartfelt applause, no cutting up in front of the crowd, no Rat Pack escapades or stories. This is just pure music, soft and touching - "all the flim flam diddyway, gone," as Stan Cornyn says in the liner notes. I don't know of very many singers, no matter how talented they are, who would sit down in a studio with one guitarist and just sing; Sammy did it, and the recordings from these sessions not only prove the magnitude of his miraculous voice, they prove his true love for music. Several of these songs are familiar, but rarely have you heard them sung so softly and beautifully. Here's That Rainy Day, having appeared on one of Sammy's greatest hits albums, is a familiar and perfect representative of these songs. Familiar Sammy classics such as The Shadow of Your Smile and We'll Be Together Again, take on whole new meanings in this purest of interpretations. Familiar show tunes such as Where is Love? and Joey, Joey, Joey become elegant pieces of depth and beauty. I'm Always Chasing Rainbows is simply poignant and beautiful, as is Misty (a bonus track from the original recordings). I don't listen to this album as often as I indulge in Sammy's flashier numbers, but it is impossible to describe the simple beauty of this music, stripped to its bare, purest essentials in the form of the amazing Almeida's guitar playing and Sammy's unequalled singing.
There's nothing I can really add to these other customer 'rave' reviews. I had this album on vinyl back when in the 1970s and can still hear every perfect note, in fact I have unashamedly leaned on Davis' phrasing when performing 'Rainy Day' on stage (strictly amateur) whenever I have found a good enough guitarist (otherwise it has to be me)! Like any arrangement you ever heard from Billie Holiday, that's it, no other way. It's one of those albums you just never forget, like Ella in Berlin or Ray Charles and Betty Carter - Nina Simone at Town Hall. Sammy Davis I feel is the least widely respected member of the Rat Pack, despite Sinatra's support - and put up with the usual American racism - yet he was certainly the most talented. The nearest I have got recently in terms of the 'simple duet' format is Duo, by the Brazilian piano genius, Cesar Camargo Mariano, with another brilliant S American guitarist, Romero Lubambo - highly recommended. Also, of course, Tony Bennett's famous recently reissued 1974 sessions with Bill Evans... The only question I have is the bizarre pricing strategy. Lovely though this music is, why would anyone pay around £100 for a CD, even a pre-owned one, a medium that (unlike, say, a limited-edition rare vinyl record) can be infinitely reproduced? Especially when the same album is available on CD also on Amazon, used but apparently in good condition, from another reseller for only £17? As I know, because I have just grabbed it! My son says I'm mad, I can just download all these tracks from YouTube or somewhere, but I like to have a physical thing, even if it is only a CD 'ripped' to my laptop. I regret losing this fine album, along with too many others, somewhere between wives.