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Laughing in Rhythm

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Album Review

The Proper label's irresistible trawl through the cumulative vaults of American jazz, country, and rhythm & blues arrived at the discography of Slim Gaillard with an easy task at hand: improve upon what was previously available of the jive king's recorded work. The four-disc box Laughing in Rhythm accomplishes that mission by a large margin, including over 100 performances from his 15-year heyday — ranging from his recorded debut with the Slim & Slam duo in 1937, to his final sides for the Verve-associated labels in 1952. That debut, the syncopated silliness of "The Flat Foot Floogie," earned the group their first hit, and will always be the number most associated with Gaillard. Not a single one of his career landmarks is missing, whether they're early hits ("Tutti Frutti," "Laughin' in Rhythm") or later pieces ("Down by the Station," "Yep Roc Heresay"). As happens nearly every time an R&B pioneer is anthologized, however, this lengthy collection does prove that Gaillard recorded many soundalikes and only rarely departed from his trademark jive/vocalese workouts. Still, a parade of talented musicians — Gaillard and Slam Stewart obviously, but also Ben Webster, Dizzy Gillespie, Charlie Parker, and Teddy Edwards — makes the proceedings relatively easy to wade through without exhaustion, and the cheap price for any Proper box set makes it comfortable to splurge.


Born: 01 January 1916 in Detroit, MI

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '30s, '40s, '50s, '70s, '80s

One of the most eccentric vocalists ever to hit the jazz scene, Slim Gaillard became a legendary cult figure thanks to his own privately invented jive dialect "vout," a variation on hipster slang composed of imaginary nonsense words ("oreenie" and "oroonie" being two other examples). Gaillard's comic performances, laid-back cool, and supremely silly songs made him a popular entertainer from the late '30s to the early '50s, especially on the West Coast, and several of his compositions became genuine...
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Laughing in Rhythm, Slim Gaillard
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