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A reputation reborn Slim Gaillard collection

VINTAGE R&B

Slim Gaillard, "Searching For You: The Lost Singles of McVouty 1958-1974" (Sunset Blvd.)

It's a funny thing about "jump blues" and pre-rock R&B from the late-'40s and early '50s: Once upon a time, it was considered music of purely historic archival interest. And then Broadway discovered the riotous post-Waller carryings-on of the great Louis Jordan. Jazz singers right and left started raiding the repertoire of the period for instant lovability -- Slim Gaillard's "Flat Foot Floogie" (with the floy floy), for instance.

What you've got here is a record of very rare Slim Gaillard surviving in a rock era that should have passed him by but judging from the best of this, displayed him as often irresistible. He had his own patented brand of nonsense jive talk that he called "McVouty" which blended with scat-singing hilariously. This, after all, was a guy who sang duets with Dizzy Gillespie and was accorded a chunk of Kerouac's "On the Road" for a tribute: "To Slim Gaillard, the world was one big orooni."

This catch-all goes all over the map chronologically and qualitatively. You've got to hear Slim doing Nat "King" Cole's "Frim-Fram Sauce"and his own "Cement Mixer (Putti Putti)" as well as his "Cha Cha Enchilada." On "Many Things" there is -- are you ready -- a pretty fair tuba solo. And the whole disc ends with a jolly 1990 radio ad for Kahlua. But listening to Slim now singing such ballads as "Something for You" isn't really edifying no matter what Ricky Riccardi's otherwise splendid notes claim. Still, Slim's reputation is being reborn and he may yet wind up as an American perennial.

3 stars (out of four)

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