Recent listening, current

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

126. Babs Gonzales / The Chronological Classics: 1947-1949 (2000)

Babs Gonzales was a fringe character in jazz, although he garnered a devoted fan base. I have a difficult time finding him a slot in my head, which I guess a lot of people must. So I'll file him with King Pleasure on one side and Screamin' Jay Hawkins on the other, not too far from Slim Gaillard and Betty Roche. The chief characteristic of his music is a bebop inflected vocal style somewhere between scat and vocalese, with occasional forays into conventional lyric singing. He had lots of friends on his records: Tadd Dameron, Art Pepper, Sonny Rollins, Bennie Green, and James Moody to name a few. This disc contains just what its title describes. Included are his legendary sides for Blue Note with Dameron on piano, as well as his work for the smaller Apollo and Manor labels (enjoy Green and Moody on Manor). Also here are eight sides recorded by Capitol, three of which were rejected. These groups contain a young Sonny Rollins, Art Pepper, J.J. Johnson, Roy Haynes, as well as Wynton Kelly, and Pee Wee Tinney on guitar. It's a motley bunch of tunes and dudes that are charming ("Running Around"), humorous ("A Lesson in Bopology"), or spooky ("Weird Lullaby"), but always good fun. Appreciate them for containing the work of other notables, or on their own merit. You won't find much like Babs anywhere else.

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