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Slim Gaillard / Slim & Slam | UbuWeb Ethnopoetics



1. Bassology (2'39")

2. African Jive (2'39")


In filling in the history of experimental soundings in the modernist "west," attention can now be given to a range of artists working within jazz and other alternative traditions. From this perspective a range of performers share in a Dada-like exploration of wordless and non-sense texts and lyrics with a similar emphasis on an art of high (or low) comic intensity. (See the entry on Ella Fitzgerald elsewhere in this site.) 

Beginning in 1937 guitarist Bulee "Slim" Gaillard and bassist Leroy "Slam" Stewart worked together for a number of years under the label of "Slim and Slam." Among works of theirs that disassembled and reassembled language were "Flat Foot Floogie (with a floy-floy)" and "Bassology," as presented here. Gaillard, creator of a variety of jive language that he named 'Vout" or "Vout Oreenee," continued in this vein over several decades, including an extended work, Opera in Vout, which premiered in Los Angeles in 1946. (Compare his one-word self-definition, e.g., to Schwitters' Merz or Khlebnikov's Zaum.) stewart, a master bassist, developed a technique of playing his solos with a bow while humming along simultaneously at an octave higher. Well aware of his dimensions as an artist, one of his last appearances was at a poetry festival, "Performing Language" (1987, Binghamton, New York), which also included work by Jackson Mac Low, Anne Tardos, Carolee Schneemann, Armand Schwerner, Steve McCaffery, Charles Bernstein, Jerome Rothenberg, Charles Stein, Flying Words (Peter Cook and Kenny Lerner), Eleanor Antin, and Barbara Einzig. 

Addenda. (1) "One night we went to see Slim Gaillard in a little Frisco nightclub. In Frisco great eager crowds of semi-intellectuals sat at his feet and listened to him on the piano, guitar and bongo drums. ... Now Dean approached him, he approached his God; he thought Slim Gaillard was God." (Jack Kerouac, On the Road)

(2) "The elements of poetry are letters, syllables, words, sentences. Poetry arises from the playing off of these elements against each other. Meaning is only essential if it is to be used as one such factor. I play off sense against nonsense. I prefer nonsense, but that is a purely personal matter. I pity nonsense, because until now it has been so neglected in the making of art, and that's why I love it." (Kurt Schwitters. from Merz)

(3) The lyrics of Flat Foot Floogie, rearranged by Fats Waller, follow: 

Flat Foot Floogie(Gaillard, Stewart, Green)

Oh, the flat foot floogie with a floy, floy,  

Flat foot floogie with a floy, floy,  

Flat foot floogie with a floy, floy,  

Floy doy, floy doy, floy doy.  

Yeah, yeah yeah, byah, oh, baby!  

Yeah, byah, byah, oh, baby!  

Yeah, byah, byah, oh, baby!  

Yeah, byah, byah!  

Whenever your cares are chronic,  

Just tell the world, "go hang," 

You'll find a greater tonic,  

If you go on swingin' with the gang!  

Flat foot floogie with a floy, floy,  

Flat foot floogie with a floy, floy,  

Floy, floy, floy, yeah!  

Send me on out there!  

[Shouting and muttering to the band.]  

Whenever your cares are chronic,

Just tell the world, "go hang," 

You'll find a greater tonic,  

If you go on stumblin' with the gang!

 

Hey, hey, hey, yes, yes!  

Well, all right then; get those floy-floys straight!  

Transcribed from vocals by Fats Waller, recorded August 21, 1938 





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