Babs Gonzales

Jazz singers used the scat technique, that means using the voice to create notes that are not words so the voice works like a musical instrument - and they also used slang in their music. Vocalists such as Slim Gaillard, and Babs Gonzalez were larger than life characters who used strange, funny new words in rhythmically complex phrases.

Born Lee Brown, 27 Oct. 1919, in Newark NJ; he and his brothers were all called Babs. He studied piano at a young age and learned to play drums. He sang in clubs; wore turban in Hollywood late '40s, calling himself Ram Singh; worked as chauffeur for Errol Flynn; called himself Ricardo Gonzales (Mexican rather than 'Negro') so as to get a room in a good hotel.

Babs Gonzales was a singer who did what he could to popularize bop, and was a pioneer in the scat vocalese style. He had stints with Charlie Barnet and Lionel Hampton's big bands, and then led his own group Three Bips & a Bop during 1946-1949. They recorded for Blue Note during 1947- 1949, including the earliest version of “Oop-Pop-A-Da,” later covered by Dizzy, and such songs as “Weird Lullaby,” “Real Crazy,” “Professor Bop,” and “Prelude to a Nightmare”; among his sidemen on these dates were Tadd Dameron, Tony Scott, Roy Haynes, James Moody, J.J. Johnson, Julius Watkins, Sonny Rollins (making his recording debut), Art Pepper, Wynton Kelly, and even Don Redman.

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