March 25, 2009


March 25, 2009


Smith has led a long career filled with ups and downs, not the least the marriage to Louis Prima. Keely has done very well for herself since she left Prima. Her song albums and now her C.D’s are always big sellers and continue to be. And here is something that you can believe – her voice is even stronger today then it was in her earlier years. Unlike some singers, Keely has managed to keep the great style and clear voice that makes her so special. Many singers, even Sinatra began to lose the great range that they had in their younger years. Not so with Smith. She still has the tenderness on the love songs and she soars through upbeat tunes like “Jump Five” and “Gigolo”.

On the stage, when she sings Smith looks just like she did forty years ago. She has the same bobbed hair and dressed in a sultry black outfit with beads of glitter here and there she looked like the same Keely Smith of the Big Band days. She also has great fun up there on the stage between boffo songs. Smith admits to the audience that she is 81 years old (doesn’t look it, I think she jests. I would say she’s in her 70’s.) “But I still feel like I’m 13” – she says. Smith quipped to a man in the front row who was with his wife – “I’m hungry are they going to feed us afterwards?” The man says: “I’ll take you to dinner!” Smith looks down at him, pauses then says: “What are we gonna do with her (The Wife)?” Yep, Smith is sharp as a tack. In a debate – she would win.

Keely Smith is a survivor. Through changing musical trends – she never goes out of style. And she has fans in High Places. Actor Robert DeNiro and director Martin Scorcese have been long-time fans of Keely’s. Over the years they have placed her music in numerous films, including ‘The Deerhunter’, ‘Raging Bull’, ‘Analyze This’, ‘That Old Feeling’, ‘Big Night’ and ‘Mad Dog and Glory.’

Swing and Big Band music is coming back into it’s own again. You hear it everywhere including ‘Dancing with the Stars’. And, why not? This is the kind of music that tunes your body up – you can’t help but tapping your toes and shaking whatever you want to shake. The audience at the RaZZ were shaking everything that was legal. Their bones loved the music.

Smith finished this fantastic evening of music that ‘fits your mood and fits you’ with this soaringly romantic masterpiece – “I Have Dreamed”. It was a powerhouse ending with a Band that was the best I have heard in years. It’s a Spectacular evening that will be on the RaZZ room stage through April 4th. As Smith’s opening number says “Good Times Roll”. And, that is what you can expect and more from Keely Smith.

RATING: FOUR GLASSES OF CHAMPAGNE!!!! (highest rating) –trademarked-

(((Lee Hartgrave has contributed many articles to the San Francisco Chronicle Sunday Datebook Section and produced a long-running Arts Segment on PBS KQED)))

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