Too often, the magnitude of an artist’s talent is not wholly known or recognized until after that person is gone. In the case of Sammy Davis, Jr., who died in 1990, the legend, with its Rat Pack and Las Vegas associations, has sometimes overshadowed the man. Thankfully, a newly released DVD, The Best Of Sammy Davis Jr. Live, highlights the singular gifts of one of the twentieth century’s consummate entertainers.
Filmed in Germany in 1985, this complete hour-long concert includes some of Davis’ most beloved songs, including “Candy Man,” “What Kind Of Fool Am I,” and “I’ve Gotta Be Me,” sung with swagger, prowess, and inherent cool. Davis’ voice is in superb form here, consistently rich and resonant, whether sounding vulnerable and tender or resilient and soaring. Also impressive, following a jazzy version of “Singing In The Rain,” Davis delivers a spectacular tap-dance routine, to the sheer amazement of the live theatre audience. The most gripping and endearing image of Sammy Davis, Jr. in this performance, though, comes during the final number, “Mr. Bojangles.” Personifying the title character with a bowl hat and walking cane, Davis delivers a definitive and iconic rendition of this signature song.
For long-time fans or even for the curious, this remarkable concert DVD confirms that Sammy Davis, Jr. was a quintessential entertainer by virtue of his own merit and talent.