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13 July 2012

Breakin' The Ice

This set covers Louis Prima and His New Orleans Gang from September 27, 1934 through June 27, 1935, and includes some alternative tracks in the fun that was Louis Prima. Pee Wee Russell, Claude Thornhill and George van Eps are among those in the sessions (see the scan below). "A tireless showman and an underrated musical talent, Louis Prima swung his way to icon status thanks to an irresistible, infectious sound whose appeal translated across generations. Nominally a swing artist, Prima's distinctive sound also encompassed New Orleans-style jazz, boogie-woogie, jump blues, R&B, early rock & roll, and even the occasional Italian tarantella. Regardless of what form his music took, it swung hard and fast, with a rolling, up-tempo shuffle beat that helped some of his earlier material cross over to R&B audiences (his songs were also covered by jump blues artists from time to time). His greatest period of popularity coincided with his marriage to singer Keely Smith, whose coolly sophisticated vocals and detached stage manner made a perfect counterpoint to Prima's boisterous presence: mugging, clowning, and cavorting around the stage with the boundless enthusiasm of a hyperactive boy. Prima's band during this time was anchored by tenor saxophonist Sam Butera, whose grounding in jump blues and New Orleans R&B was a perfect match. Perhaps because Prima refused to take his music too seriously, sober-minded jazz critics often dismissed him as a mere entertainer, overlooking his very real talent as a jazzman. He was a capable, gravelly-voiced singer modeled on Louis Armstrong, boasting a surprising range, and was also a fine trumpet player, again in the irrepressible mold of Armstrong; what was more, he wrote Benny Goodman's perennial swing smash "Sing, Sing, Sing." Prima's impact on popular culture was also significant; his pronounced ethnicity made it safe for other Italian-American singers to acknowledge their roots, and he was the first high-profile musical act to take up regular residence in the lounges and casinos of Las Vegas, helping to start the city's transformation into a broader-based entertainment capital. His musical legacy proved long-lasting, as covers of his classics became modern-day hits for David Lee Roth and Brian Setzer; additionally, the '90s swing revival, which sought to re-emphasize the danceability and sense of fun that had largely disappeared from jazz, brought Prima's music back into the limelight (as well as the good graces of critics)." [Allmusic.com] Enjoy! +


01. That's Where The South Begins
02. Jamaica Shout
03. Long About Midnight
04. Stardust
05. Sing It Way Down Low. Take C
06. Sing It Way Down Low. Take D
07. Let's Have A Jubilee. Take B
08. I Still Want You
09. Breakin' The Ice
10. Sing It Way Down Low. Take E
11. Let Have A Jubilee. Take C
12. House Rent Party Day
13. It's The Rhythm In Me
14. Worry Blues
15. Bright Eyes
16. Put On An Old Pair Of Shoes
17. Sugar Is Sweet And So Are You
18. I'm Living In A Great Big Way
19. Swing Me With Rhythm
20. The Lady In Red
21. Chinatown, My Chinatown
22. Chasing Shadows
23. Basin Street Blues
24. In A Little Gypsy Tea Room
25. Let's Swing It


hamfat said...

Thank you for the Prima. I love these early sides. Where are the scans you mention?

luthier said...

Thanks, Chester. Looking forward to sit and listen to this. :)

Chester Proudfoot said...

It just goes to show you that efficiency is overrated. I added the back scan to the post. Just click on it to view the larger image.

vilstef said...

Much of what you say about the criticism applied to Prima would apply word for word to Cab Calloway too. For both of these under-rated men, I way, what a singer, what an entertainer, what a band!