Celluloid Improvisations logo Jazz on Film Mark Cantor

Slim Gaillard Trio “Dunkin’ Bagel”

I have often thought, with so many great Jewish songwriters — the Gershwins, Irving Berlin, Lorenz Hart, Harold Arlen, Oscar Hammerstein, Jerome Kern and many others) — why is there not one great Chanukah song? A thought to ponder. Chanukah 2016 is arriving soon and so a song to celebrate the season, the beloved DUNKIN’ BAGEL!

The black cast film O’VOUTIE O’RONNEY is one of the great mysteries in jazz on film. What we know about it is pretty much limited to a twenty minute excerpt of musical performances featuring the Slim Gaillard Trio. But an extant poster suggests that there was much more, including features for New York-based dancer Mabel Lee. And there is a SOUNDIE connection, to boot, albeit one that we do not quite understand yet: In the SOUNDIE “Foolin’ Around,” actor Dewey Brown is seen waring an outlandish headpiece.

* You can see the same headpiece at the lower right-hand corner of the movie’s poster. Which raises yet another problem: the SOUNDIE was produced in New York City, the Slim Gaillard musical sequences in Los Angeles. Obviously, a lot of room for continued research here.

On to the musical sequences: It has been report that this part of the film was shot at Billy Berg’s club in Hollywood, and a number of musicians (including Buddy Collette and Jackie Kelso) told me that it does indeed look like Berg’s. We do know that the Slim Gaillard Trio is composed of Gaillard (piano and guitar), Tiny “Bam” Brown (string bass) and Scatman Carruthers. The trio performs six tunes in the film, and DUNKIN’ BAGEL is, for my money, the best. Smash! In the Coffee!

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