Louis Prima: Jump, Jive, an' Wail


Jump, Jive, an' Wail


Louis Prima (trumpet, vocals)


Louis Prima Collectors Series (Capitol 94072)

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Louis Prima (trumpet, vocals),

Sam Butera (saxophone, vocals) , Keely Smith (vocals) , Jack Marshall (guitar), Amado Rodrigues (bass), Bobby Morris (drums), Willie McCumber (piano), James “Little Red” Blount (trombone)


Composed by Louis Prima


Recorded: April 19, 1956


Rating: 95/100 (learn more)

As a proud Sicilian-American, I have been known to enhance my jazz credentials by letting drop that my family comes from a "small island off the coast of Africa." Okay, it's a bit closer to Italy, but don't dismiss my boast out of hand. As Richard Sudhalter has noted: "The sheer quantity of Sicilian names in the ranks of New Orleans jazzmen—LaRocca, Roppolo, Veca, Almericom Giardino, Barocco, Capraro, Prima, Lala, Coltraro, Davilla, Loyocano, Manone, Gallodoro, Federico, Cordilla, Guarino, Scaglione, Pinero, Schiro, Parenti, Mangipane, Liberto, Franzella, Papalia, Mello, Palmisano, Pecora, Provenzano, Sbarbaro—attests to the role Italo-Americans played in the music's first years. It is a field ripe for further research."

Coltraro? Wasn't he the tenor player who invented circular breathing?

Of this group of pioneers, none became more famous than Louis Prima, but his success in crossing over has led many to forget his strong jazz and Crescent City roots. If he is connected in the public's mind with a city, it is probably Las Vegas, not New Orleans, where he worked the casinos and kept the partyin' festive and the slot machines spinnin'. But the boisterous, uninhibited quality of his performance of "Jump, Jive, an' Wail" would be equally at home on Basin Street or in the heat of a Mardi Gras celebration. Give credit to Sam Butera, too, who played John Gilmore to Prima's Sun Ra, aways finding the right licks for the mix.

How to describe Prima's approach? Doggerel Sicilian rhythm & blues? Jump tune meets "Funiculì, Funiculà"? Storyville with pomodoro? Honestly, it's just the one and only Louis Prima, a big talent too large to be contained by any casino . . . or even a small island off the coast of Africa.

Reviewer: Ted Gioia


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