Last Friday I was channel surfing and happened to notice “Jump, Jive & Wail” playing in the background on teeny sitcom “It Takes Two.” If that doesn’t prove how ubiquitous Louis Prima was this year, then nothing does. I barely know a single person who didn’t pick up a copy of the Capitol Collectors Series disc this year—you know the one, yellow cover with a jolly, surprised-looking cover shot of the King of Lasagna Jazz.
Breaking It Up! compiles Prima’s 1951-1953 recordings for Columbia in the period right before he became the Las Vegas lounge superstar of the mid-‘50s. Prima’s salacious wit is in fine form on “Oooh-Dahdily-Dah” and he heaps on the Italian kitsch on “Basta,” and “Luigi.” It’s obvious that as early as 1951, Prima was already perfecting the riveting combination of humor, Dixieland, and R&B that would mark Prima a swing king and help kick-start today’s retro swing scene.
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