Gaillard, Slim (Bulee)

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Gaillard, Slim (Bulee)

Gaillard, Slim (Bulee), jazz singer, guitarist, pianist, vibraphonist, and saxophonist; b. Santa Clara, Cuba, Jan. 1, 1916; d. London, England, Feb. 26, 1991. His father was a steward on a liner; Gaillard traveled with him during holidays and was once accidentally left behind on Crete, remaining there for six months. He entered show business in the early 1930s as a solo variety act, simultaneously playing guitar and tap-dancing. Moving to N.Y. in 1937, he formed a duo with Slam Stewart, in which he sang and played guitar. Slim and Slam had a long-running radio program on WNEW-AM, N.Y., and a number of hits in the late 1930s, notably “Flat Foot Floogie,” covered by Fats Waller, Benny Goodman and others. By 1940 he was leading his own quintet in Chicago, although the duo performed occasionally before he joined the Army in 1943. Discharged the following year, he led a trio at clubs in L.A., including Billy Berg’s and the Swing Club. Among his postwar hits was “Cement Mixer (Put-ti, Put-ti)” in 1946. During the 1950s and 1960s he performed solo as a vocalist, master of ceremonies, and comedian. After managing a motel in San Diego, he held residencies in N.Y. and San Jose, Calif. (1963). He briefly reunited with Stewart at the 1970 Monterey Festival, and worked in L.A. (1970–71). He recorded with Bucky Pizzarelli and Major Holley, did sessions on his own, and made many club and festival appearances. From the early 1980s he lived in London’s Chelsea district and was the subject of a BBC television documentary in the late 1980s. He performed at jazz clubs and festivals in Britain and France until diagnosed with cancer in 1991. He appeared in many films, including Star Spangled Rhythm, Hellzapoppiri’, Almost Married, Go Man Go, and Two Joes from Brooklyn, as well as the television mini-series RootsThe Next Generation. He invented the Vout Oreenie jive language.

Discography

S.G. Cavorts (1952); S.G. Mish Mash (1953); Wherever They May Be (1954); Dot Sessions (1958); S.G. Rides Again (1959); Anytime, Anyplace, Anywhere (1982). SLIM AND SLAM: Flat Foot Floogie (1938).

—Nicolas Slonimsky/Lewis Porter

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