Gene Perla: I'm Popeye The Sailor Man


I'm Popeye The Sailor Man


Gene Perla (bass)


Bill's Waltz (PM Records PMR-030)

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Gene Perla (bass), Elvin Jones (drums), Vladyslav Sendeck (piano), Dan Gottshall (trombone),

NDR Big Band (horn section)


Arranged by Bill Warfield. Composed by Sammy Lerner


Recorded: New York, 1986 - Hamburg, 2008


Rating: 97/100 (learn more)

What began as an intimate session involving Elvin Jones and multi-instrumentalist Gene Perla back in 1986 culminated in the November, 2008 release of a unique (if somewhat controversial) album uniting archived tracks with Protools-enabled contemporary sessions involving members of North German Broadcastingís NDR Big Band. The same outrage inspired by dead celebrities appearing in new commercials (John Wayne hawking Coors Beer, Fred Astaire dancing with a vacuum cleaner, etc.) has surfaced in the wake (bad choice of words?) of Billís Waltz. To be deterred by all the brouhaha would be a pity, as there are some authentic moments of spontaneous combustion to be found on these sides, click track be damned!

"Iím Popeye the Sailor Man" may be an unlikely vehicle for a jazz session but, propelled by this legendary drummer's boundless energy, it runs downwind with a bone in its teeth. The track opens with Elvinís popping snare tattooing a New Awlins- style march interpretation of the traditional sailorís hornpipe, a theme which resurfaces throughout the arrangement, salted with tritones and arrgh-mented ninths. Leading with a respectable imitation of Popeyeís staccato laugh, trombonist Dan Gottshall delivers a satisfying, Olive Oyl-smooth solo, piloting through bluesy, spinach-free channels which never sound canned or Wimpy. Across the vast, improbable gulf of time and space the entire ensemble is held together and ignited by Jonesís unmistakable back beat, while the signature hornpipe theme takes its final bow with a drum solo tag.

Well, blow me down. Popeye aficionados are aware of the scruffy cartoon sailorís scatting ability, but who knew he could swing?

Reviewer: Bill Barnes

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  • 1 Ron - Popeye Costume // May 26, 2009 at 09:41 PM
    the Popeye soundtrack is also the coolest cartoon track ever. Everyone knows it which makes it even better as a vehicle to any jazz session.