Master of both humor and music, Slim Gaillard always found a way to make his audience smile. Paired with excellent musicianship, Gaillard’s lyrical absurdism transcended beyond just a novelty: he performed with some of the greatest jazz acts of the 20th century including Benny Goodman, Fats Waller, Charlie Parker, and Dizzy Gillespie. He even popped up in Jack Kerouac’s seminal Beat novel On the Road.
His talents need to be seen to be appreciated, as in this clip from The Steve Allen Show in 1962. Watch his hands (and arms and feet) as he fuses Debussy’s “Clair de lune” with full-on big band jazz.