Al "Jazzbeaux" Collins

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Al "Jazzbeaux" Collins makes a superior impression with his goony beatnik humor, but also had a more serious side as a loyal friend of jazz since the early '50s. No less an authority than Rudy Van Gelder,…
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Al "Jazzbeaux" Collins makes a superior impression with his goony beatnik humor, but also had a more serious side as a loyal friend of jazz since the early '50s. No less an authority than Rudy Van Gelder, who seems to have recorded half the great jazz albums ever made, has fondly recalled the Collins broadcasts from this period on New York City's WNEW, and not just because he liked the texture of the Collins vocal palette. Actually, the disc jockey was such a hipster that he heavily promoted some of Van Gelder's brilliant fledgling efforts in the indie record business, including sides featuring the Joe Mooney organ trio. Collins has written liner notes for jazz releases, a sideline hobby of just about any disc jockey or critic in the genre, regardless of controversy concerning possible bias. He is one of a select group of disc spinners who has contributed creatively to recordings, most notably as a narrator for trumpeter Charlie Shavers. Better known, however, is the concept of "hip fairy tales," or the recasting of familiar freeloading bears, hungry wolves, various elfin beings, creepy witches, and sleeping princesses in beatnik garb. Collins, the hilarious Slim Gaillard, and comedian and television host Steve Allen made use of this enjoyable concept in various collaborations, similar in tone to material done by Bullwinkle creator Jay Ward and Pogo cartoonist Walt Kelly. These comic geniuses would no doubt suggest a sense of humor to help battle the confusion between this artist and at least three major and minor bluesmen with the same name.