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High Fidelity


Babs' 3 Bips and a Bop (1947)

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Tadd Dameron

Virtually all of singer Babs Gonzales' most important recordings are on this colorful CD. A pioneering bop-oriented scat singer who predated vocalese masters Eddie Jefferson, King Pleasure, and Jon Hendricks, Gonzales sang with enthusiasm and an emphasis on vowels. Babs is featured on eight numbers with his Three Bips and a Bop (pianist-composer Tadd Dameron is in the supporting cast), including the original version of Gonzales' greatest hit, "Oop-Pop-A-Da." Other sessions are as noteworthy for their unique personnel as for Babs' singing, which includes tenor saxophonist Sonny Rollins (in his recording debut), trombonists Bennie Green and J.J. Johnson, French horn master Julius Watkins, altoist Art Pepper, pianist Wynton Kelly, drummer Roy Haynes, Don Redman (on soprano), flutist Albert Soccaras, and violinist Ray Nance. The final four numbers (from 1956 and 1958) find Gonzales backed on two songs apiece by the Jimmy Smith Trio and the Bennie Green Quintet (with pianist Sonny Clark). Highlights overall include "Weird Lullaby," "Babs' Dream," "Professor Bop," "Prelude to a Nightmare," "The Continental," "St. Louis Blues," and "'Round Midnight." Essential for bop collectors. ~ Scott Yanow