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On: Thursday, April 11, 2013

Babs Gonzales
Lee Brown
aka Ram Singh
aka Ricardo Gonzales
Oct 27 1919 – Jan 23 1980 age 60
Official Site

The former Lee Brown admittedly started his singing career as an ersatz Billy Eckstein, which is hard to imagine for a guy prone to wearing a sombrero, plaid jacket and wooden shoes, but that's the word. A skinny runt with a habit of annoying people, he was known to extricate himself from fights in which he was outmatched by tossing a handful of red pepper in his opponent's face.
He found a new musical direction in the mid-1940s when Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie and others emerged with their fresh sounds. Babs was an instant convert, and saw it as his mission to create a vocal version of be-bop as a 'bridge to the people.' He incorporated inventive vocal improvisation complementing (or in place of) instrumental jams. His earliest 78, 'Oop-Pop-Pa-Da', was covered by Dizzy Gillespie (who took writing credit!) and was enough of a hit to inspire a parody by the Kirby Stone 4 called 'Who Parked the Car?'
Beautiful and wacky, these recordings feature backing by a number of jazz giants, including Sonny Rollins in his very first session. Babs' polyrhythmic scatting on 'The Continental' would have sent an Arthur Murray class into a mass seizure. The title tune is a spooky minor-key masterpiece. Fans of Slim Gaillard will certainly be tuned in to the Gonzales wavelength.
Out of print for a few years, this disc was reissued as part of Blue Note's 'Connoisseur Series,' which means it won't be around forever. Missing it a second time would be worse than a face full of red pepper.

01 Lop-Pow
02 Oop-Bop-A-Da
03 Stomping at the Savoy
04 Pay Dem Dues
05 Running Around
06 Bab's Dream
07 Dob Bla Bli
08 Weird Lullaby
09 Roy's Groove
10 Phipps' Deep
11 Everything Is Cool
12 1280 Special
13 A Lesson on Bopology
14 Loop-Plu-E-Du
15 Honeysuckle Bop
16 A Choice Taste
17 Capitolizing
18 Professor Bop
19 The Continental
20 Prelude to a Nightmare
21 St. Louis Blues
22 Real Crazy
23 Then You'll Be Boppin' Too
24 When Lovers They Lose

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