(playing with consiousness )
Slim Gaillard was the perennial MC and hipster about town, whose impact and influence in the bop n beat generation of the 1940s ant the 50s is hard to exagerrate. Born in Detroit in 1916, he was a singer, songwriter, pianist , saxophonist and guitarist, noted for his immaculate appearance . As well as speaking eight languages, Arabic, Syrian, Bulgarian, Turkish, Armenian, Portugese and fluent Greek he had time to invent a new one, 'Vout' a hipster slang generated by adding -'oroonie' to every significant word, he became known for his use of alliteration and his dazzling wordplay, with his hip nonsensical but inventive patois leading things.He was not however just a mere novely act, his playing was good enough for him to contend and play with many of the all time jazz greats. A true polymath, in periods away from music he worked as a cook, an airline pilot and a merchant seaman.
At the time of Americas witchhunts by the so called moral majority, Gaillard became a target. Among one of his songs to be singled out as being a prime cause in the decline of morals amongst the country's youth were the ultra-suggestive Drei Six Cents (actually Yiddish for thirty cents) and even the more sinister Cement Mixer with its onomatopoeic 'putti, putti. In other songs he alluded to all manner of dubious activities. Subversive stuff to some , eh. His song 'Yep Roc Heresay''is considered one of the first Jazz songs in Arabic. He carried on doin what he did, recording with Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie among many. Carried on regardless with his outrageous humour which manifest throughout his work , energetic, exciting. Gregarious and overflowing with tales, and wild vernacular eruptions.
In later life he settled in London , where he turned on a new generation of British players.
Often when life gets to serious when I need a little distractions from dark reality I play his records for a bit of a lift, listen to some cool , unexpected sounds. A nice cocktail for the senses when engaging in lifes balancing acts. Improvised scatterings, interplay arrives at a truly international language. A joy to listen to a truly original voice. Hip idiosyncracy with a dash of versatility, I'll forgive him 'Absolute Beginners' brilliant book turned into shoddy film,oh and 'Charlies Angels'!! we all make mistakes, he simply walked his own way.
He died in London on February 26th 1991.
I will leave you with some words from todays sponsor Mr Jack Kerouac.
'But one night we suddenly went mad together again; we went to see Slim Gaillard in a little Frisco night-club. Slim Gaillard is a tall, thin Negro with big sad eyes who's always saying, 'Right-orooni' and 'How 'bouta little
bourbon-orooni.' In Frisco great eager crowds of young semi-intellectuals sat at his feet and listened to him on the piano, guitar, and bongo drums. When he gets warmed up he takes off his shirt and undershirt and really goes. He does and says anything that comes into his head. He'll sing 'Cement Mixer, Put-ti Put-ti' and suddenly slow down the beat and brood over his bongos with fingertips barely tapping the skin as everybody leans forward breathlessly to hear; you think he'll do this for a minute or so, but he goes right on, for as long as an hour, making an imperceptible little noise with the tips of his fingernails, smaller and smaller all the time till you can't hear it any more and sounds of traffic come in the open door. Then he slowly gets up and takes the mike and says, very slowly, 'Great-orooni... fine-ouvati... hello-orooni. . . bourbon-oroonie. . . all-orooni. . . orooni. . . how are the boys in the front row making out with their girls-orooni. . . . orooni. . . vauti. . . orooirooni. . . ' He keeps this up for fifteen minutes, his voice getting softer and softer till you can't hear. His great sad eyes scan the audience.
Dean stands in the back, saying, 'God! Yes! and clasping his hands in prayer and sweating. 'Sal, Slim hnows time, he knows time.' Slim sits down at the piano and hits two notes, two Cs, then two more, then one, then two, and suddenly the big burly bass player wakes up from a reverie and realizes Slim is playing 'C-Jam Blues' and he slugs in his big forefinger on the string and the big booming beat begins and everybodystarts rocking and Slim looks just as sad as ever, and they blow jazz for half an hour, and then Slim goes mad and grabs the bongos and plays tremendous rapid Cubana beats and yells crazy things in Spanish,in Arabic, in Peruvian dialect, in Egyptian, in every language he knows, and he knows innumerable languages. Finally the set is over; each set takes two hours. Slim Gaillard goes and stands againsy a post, looking sadly over everybody's head as people come to talk to him. A bourbon is slipped into his hand. 'Bourbon-orooni- thank -you-ouvati. . . ' Nobody knows where Slim Gaillard is. Dean once had a dream that he was having a baby and his belly was all bloated up blue as he lay on the grass of a California hospital. Under a tree, with a group of coloured men, sat Slim Gaillard. Dean turned despairing eyes of a mother to him. Slim daid, 'There you go-orooni.' Now Dean approached him , he approached his God; he thought Slim was God; he shuffled and bowed in front of him and asked him to join us. 'Right-orooni,' says Slim; he'll join anybody but he won't guarantee to be there with you in spirit. Dean got a table, bought drinks, and sat stiffly in front of Slim. Slim dreamed over his head. Every time Slim said, 'Orooni,' Dean said, 'Yes!' I sat there with these two madmen. Nothing happened. To Slim Gaillard thewhole world was just one big orooni.'
'On the Road'- Jack Kerouac
Andre Deutsch 1958.
Vout Oroonie Folks!
Dreix Six Cents- Slim Gaillard
Cement Mixer - Slim Gaillard
Yep Roc Heresay -Slim Gaillard Quartette.
Jazz Juke Box
George Melly interview with Slim
George Melly shows somes hort films made in 1940's ,sublime .
Slim Gaillard live 1947.