Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Mack Vout Oroonie!!!

Slim Gaillard's story is so riddled with holes, contradictions, myth, conjecture, hearsay, and straight up bullshit that really only Slim himself knows the real deal, but he died in 1991. If one was to believe Slim's own accounts he would have had to live 3 or 4 lifetimes to achieve all he claimed. Born Bulee Gaillard in 1911, and again 1916 in Pensacola, Detroit, and even Santa Clara, Cuba, Slim spent much of his childhood aboard a merchant marine ship with his steward father. On one such expedition he was accidentally left behind in Greece. It was while in Greece he supported himself by tap dancing on the street. He also taught himself to play several instruments. In his early 20s, Slim found himself in Detroit where he took up boxing, worked as a mortician, and honed his guitar playing and tap dancing skills. Slim also called New York home. There he met rotund bassist Slam Stewart. The two of them formed Slim & Slam, with Scatman "Got killed in The Shining" Crothers on drums. Slim Gaillard practically invented his own language with words like "orooney" and "vout" and would often incorporate pop culture references of the time into his freestyle scat jive rantings. The guy was hilarious. And no slouch on the fret board, Slim's rocking solos pre-date Chuck Berry by more than a decade. But, alas, Slim got no respect from his peers, and though he could play circles around most of them, he was seen as sort of a Weird Al type character due to his satirical takes on such beloved celebs of the day like Yma Sumac, Count Basie, and Desi Arnaz. He was also a very outspoken critic of the American Federation of Musicians. He gets a mention in Kerouac's "On The Road," and he has a cameo in the film "Absolute Beginners," but all of this is, of course, secondary to the man's incredible music. Who else could create such amazing songs about chickens, poodles,potato chips, and a flatfoot floogie with a floy floy? The tracks here are from the abridged version of the "Laughing in Rhythm: The Verve Years" cd. It's a great overview of the range of Slim Gaillard and his amazing work from the late '40s and early '50s. Perhaps the only thing certain about Slim Gaillard's life is that it was colorful and it came to an end in 1991. Thankfully we have these recordings. Vout Oroonie Roo!!!



Nina said...

Thanks Aesop! I've been trying to motivate myself to clean my house all day, and this album is finally getting me off my ass. Love it!

Ploni said...

I didn't know you liked Absolute Beginners you GEEK (the dollhouse scene with Davies is my favorite cinematic moment EVER)