Slim Gaillard

1947-1951

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AllMusic Review by

Multi-instrumentalist and gloriously irrational vocalist Slim Gaillard marked 1947 as his last year of steady activity on the West Coast. Popular with the public but rather notorious among record company executives and nosy narks, Gaillard managed to squeeze out a series of records for MGM before relocating to New York City where three more titles apparently fulfilled his contractual obligations with that company in 1949. Gaillard also landed a small piece of work with Mercury in March 1951 and even managed to line up a session with Norman Granz for the Clef label two months later. The first 13 tracks on this peculiar compilation represent the Slim Gaillard/Bam Brown L.A. hipster novelty routine taken to its inevitable extreme. On one session someone named Jim Hawthorne even barks like a dog ("Serenade to a Poodle") and keeps up an irritating refrain of "Hoo-hoo-hoo-Hogan!" ("The Hogan Song"). Discographical rumors persist that the pianist on October 1, 1947, might have been Dodo Marmarosa, but this is almost certainly not the case. The session that took place on December 22, 1947, yielded a surprisingly palatable version of "Down by the Station" and "Communications," a very hip paean to various 20th century modes of keeping in touch. With "Puerto Vootie," Gaillard continued his ongoing tendency to tap into Caribbean and Latin American traditions as fuel for his seemingly endless slaphappy shenanigans. "Money, Money, Money" is one of the best "Cuban" numbers Gaillard ever recorded. The 1949 MGM session brought in bongos, congas, and a very gutsy tenor sax to fortify the old vaudeville standby "When Banana Skins Are Falling." This group dishes out a fiery Cubano bop ritual in "Bongo Cito" and tears up with the brisk "Organ-Oreenie," a vehicle for Gaillard's maniacal manhandling of the electric organ. The Mercury date, with the band billed as Slim Gaillard's Peruvians, had the very versatile Dick Hyman at the piano and bassist Ernie Shepard, fated to become an important ingredient in the Duke Ellington ensemble. "Genius," a previously unissued third title from this obscure date, has a lot more going on in it than the discography discloses, with trombone, saxophone, vibraphone, and tap dancing all clearly audible over the organ and "vout"-infested vocals. On May 25th, Slim Gaillard & His Internationally Famous Orchestra were in the recording studio, singing "Oh, Lady Be Good" in well-rehearsed harmony and diving back into the Gulf of Mexico with "Sabroso," "Babalu," and "Yo Yo Yo." The real gem in this ensemble was none other than Count Basie's star tenor saxophonist, Buddy Tate. Anyone searching for songs inspired by the trials and tribulations of a unionized musician should check out the previously unreleased "Federation Blues," peppered with pointed references to James C. Petrillo and his American Federation of Musicians. Small wonder Granz decided not to issue this one.

Track Listing

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
1 2:52
2 2:51
3 2:49
4 2:53
5
2:40
6 3:04
7 2:57
8 2:39
9
2:47
10
2:37
11 2:18
12 2:22
13 2:29
14 2:51
15 2:45
16 2:42
17 2:59
18 2:06
19 2:52
20 2:32
21 2:32
22 3:38
23 2:48
24 3:43
blue highlight denotes track pick