Jump, Jive An' Wail: The Essential Louis Prima

Louis Prima

Capitol, 2007


REVIEW BY: David Bowling


Who is Louis Prima? Think Ricky Ricardo with an Italian accent.

Jump, Jive An’ Wail: The Essential Louis Prima is a companion CD to The Essential Keely Smith. Both CDs will be released July 17th.

Louis Prima (1910-1978) was a bandleader, trumpeter, singer, songwriter and actor. Prima formed a New Orleans jazz band in the early 1930s and then progressed to a swing combo and big band in the 1940s. His greatest claim to fame was as a major Las Vegas act with fourth wife Keely Smith in the 1950s. He and Smith won a Grammy together in 1959.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Jump, Jive An’ Wail: The Essential Louis Prima is not pop or easy listening music as defined in the modern sense of the word. It can be defined as big band swing with some dixieland jazz thrown in for good measure. I don’t know how many people this CD will appeal to, though; Prima has been gone for almost 30 years and his type of music is not in vogue.

While Louis Prima made many records during his recording career he was best seen in person. Having said that,  Jump, Jive An’ Wail: The Essential Louis Prima is not bad. Each song builds upon the other and is infectious. One can’t help but smile at the man and his music.

The live medley of "Angelina/Zooma Zooma” catch Prima’s live act at its best. Prima alternates vocals with his trumpet playing against a big band background. “Jump, Jive An’ Wail,” “Oh Marie” and “Bourbon Street Blues” are all up tempo big band/Dixieland numbers and show Prima at his studio best.

“The Lip” and “Hey Boy, Hey Girl,” both with Smith, show why the Vegas act was so successful, while “Pennies From Heaven” comes complete with Italian scat and steals the show. “Felicia No Capecia” is the type of comedy song that Prima constantly used in his live act and “When The Saints Go Marching In” allows Prima to show his trumpet skills in a Dixieland style where he is most comfortable instrumentally.

Thirty years after his death and 50 years removed from the height of his popularity Louis Prima’s musical legacy is mostly forgotten. Jump, Jive An’ Wail: The Essential Louis Prima will hopefully introduce some people to his music, since Prima was a larger-than-life character who charged through life on his own terms. In fact, his tombstone contains the words to his original song “Just A Gigolo”: "When the end comes I know they’ll all say ‘Just A Gigolo’ as life goes on without me."

This is not the best music of the era, but certainly very good and always fun.

Rating: B

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



© 2007 David Bowling and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Capitol, and is used for informational purposes only.