A tireless showman and an underrated musical talent, Louis Prima swung his way to icon status thanks to an irresistible, infectious sound whose appeal translated across generations. Nominally a swing artist, Prima's distinctive sound also encompassed New Orleans-style jazz, boogie-woogie, jump blues, R&B, early rock & roll, and even the occasional Italian tarantella. Regardless of what form his music took, it swung hard and fast, with a rolling, up-tempo shuffle beat.
His greatest period of popularity coincided with his marriage to singer Keely Smith, whose coolly sophisticated vocals and detached stage manner made a perfect counterpoint to Prima's boisterous presence: mugging, clowning, and cavorting around the stage with the boundless enthusiasm of a hyperactive boy.
Prima's band during this time was anchored by tenor saxophonist Sam Butera, whose grounding in jump blues and New Orleans R&B was a perfect match.