In June, 1964, college students from throughout the country, impassioned by the civil rights movement, traveled to Mississippi in what would be known as Freedom Summer. That same month, two separate groups of musicians, students, and record collectors also arrived in Mississippi. Though neither group was aware of the other, each had come on the …

The intimacy inherent in this collection places 1966's Sammy Davis, Jr. Sings and Laurindo Almeida Plays in a class unto itself. As he had done on the highly conceptual All-Star Spectacular in 1962 and California Suite in 1964, multi-talented entertainer Sammy Davis Jr. has created a unique and thoroughly fascinating outing. The ten selections feature Davis and Brazilian instrumentalist/arranger Laurindo Almeida, who made a name for himself as an accompanist for Carmen Miranda before delving into the decidedly American art form of West Coast cool jazz with saxophonist Bud Shank in the mid-'50s. Here, the pair effortlessly complement each other inside the very intonation and tenor of their respective crafts. Davis' incisive abilities as an emotive performer bring a pervasive dramatic quality to the wide range of material covered. When compared to fellow Rat Packer Frank Sinatra's reading of "Here's That Rainy Day," Davis' vocals lean into the song, resulting in a palpable sense of melancholia. He evokes a similar sentiment on the achingly poignant version of Cole Porter's "Ev'ry Time We Say Goodbye" as well as the hopelessly optimistic "I'm Always Chasing Rainbows." However, the real magic woven into this collaboration is without a doubt Davis' incorporation of several significant Broadway melodies. "Where Is Love" -- taken from Lionel Bart's Oliver -- is a stunning, if not mesmerizing, interpretation. "Joey, Joey, Joey" bears an earthy closeness, offering what is arguably a defining moment as the tune transcends its place within the stage production Most Happy Fella, becoming an exceptional and exquisite ballad. [In 2004, Collectors' Choice Music reissued Sammy Davis, Jr. Sings and Laurindo Almeida Plays as part of the label's complete restoration of Davis' 1960s Reprise Records catalog.]

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