During the early 1950s, producer Norman Granz managed quite a number of seasoned jazz musicians with challenging personalities; these included Charlie Parker, Billie Holiday, Lester Young and Bulee "Slim" Gaillard. Each of these individuals struggled with tendencies, habits and addictions; Gaillard would outlive Bird, Pres and Lady Day but his career was beginning to unravel and he wouldn't fully regain his popularity until his London-based comeback during the '80s. Volume eight in the Classics Slim Gaillard chronology presents 19 recordings made between August 1951 and December 1953, and issued by Granz on the Mercury, Clef and Norgran labels. Although adept as both pianist and vibraphonist, Gaillard excelled primarily as a singing guitarist during the '50s. His wild sense of humor extends even unto the names of the groups represented here. They are Slim Gaillard & His Middle Europeans, Slim Gaillard & His Atomic Engineers, Slim Gaillard & His Southern Fried Orchestra, Slim Gaillard & His Bakers Dozen, Slim Gaillard & His Shintoists and Slim Gaillard & His Musical Aggregation, Wherever He May Be. Although some of the personnel remain anonymous, Granz made sure to include several master musicians in some of Gaillard's groups; these included bassist Ray Brown and trombonist Benny Green as well as Kansas City-trained saxophonists Ben Webster and Buddy Tate. The December 1952 session that resulted in "Gomen Nasai (Forgive Me)" and a cheery paean to snack food titled "Patato Chips" documents a rare occasion when vibraphonist Milt Jackson sat in at the drums. On this compilation, Gaillard presents two distinctive aspects of his public persona: the squirrelly novelty performer who was a borderline surrealist ("Yip Roc Heresy," "The Hip Cowboy," "Chicken Rhythm") and the well-oiled crooner who reinvented Billy Eckstine's romantic chortling aesthetic. Slim Gaillard obviously loved to ladle on the Grenadine, even if Mr. Hyde was invariably present, softly giggling behind a debonair layer of polished veneer.
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