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July 7 - 14, 2000

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*** Lavay Smith and Her Red Hot Skillet Lickers


(Fat Note)

Of those who came up during the swing craze of the mid to late '90s, only the serious swingers are still attending to business. San Francisco singer Lavay Smith and her monstrous team of swingers, jumpers, boppers, and blues men are definitely doing the thing, and that's made them enormously popular at home and has led to the remarkable sales -- approaching 40,000 -- of their self-released debut, One Hour Mama.

Everybody's Talkin' About Miss Thing! again features Smith's light, lustrous, and sometimes lascivious vocals on big-band winners from days gone by as well as like-minded originals. Smith slurs, purrs, or belts as required by material ranging from Dizzy Gillespie's breezy "He Beeped When He Should Have Bopped" to several jewels of blues and balladry associated with the great Count Basie bands. Pianist Chris Siebert has a light touch à la Basie, and the horn charts -- many by Lincoln Jazz Center arranger David Berger -- are powerful and supple. Perhaps that's because Ellington alum Allen Smith (trumpet) and other vets are leading the charge, and stepping up with ease and confidence when it's time to solo.

-- Bill Kisliuk

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