December 26, 2004

She gives good gumbo

"Creole Gal" (P. Gayten)
Paul Gayten, DeLuxe, 1949

“Creole Gal” is similar in style to many jump blues numbers that were popping out of New Orleans and elsewhere around this time. But performer/pianist, songwriter, producer, and bandleader Paul Gayten spices it up with references to certain feminine and culinary amenities of his hometown. Making perhaps his first recording date with Gayten’s swinging outfit, a young and, later, legendary Lee Allen blows a jazzy tenor sax solo on the tune. My copy comes from the Creole Gal LP on Route 66, a compilation of his DeLuxe sides.

This is just one of many great Paul Gayten recordings of the period. So, I’ll be dropping a few more on you later. As one of the first postwar r&b bandleaders and recording artists in New Orleans, he influenced and inspired many of the upcoming young performers around town with his musicianship and professionalism. A number of his early sides for DeLuxe and Regal featured the sublime Annie Laurie as lead or co-vocalist, including their biggest hit, a cover of “Since I Fell For You”. After a successful stint with Regal as a producer and artist, Gayten and band had a long-running stand at the Brass Rail on Bourbon Street. In the early 1950’s, he recorded for the Okeh label, before signing on with Chess to develop local talent for the label, in addition to his own recording. He produced artists such as Clarence “Frogman” Henry, Eddie Bo, and Bobby Charles for them during the mid to late 1950’s. After that, Gayten relocated to the West Coast to run Chess operations there through the late 1960’s. Subsequently, he started the Pzazz label, which lasted just a few years.

Paul Gayten is yet another example of the multi-talented individuals who developed in and around the Home of the Groove and contributed to its long-lasting musical impact. About the only in print CD with much of his output seems to be the Getting’ Funky collection, featuring some of his sides for Regal Records. Also, try to find the out of print, more complete, Regal Records In New Orleans or its interesting live companion volume, which were both on Specialty, or Chess King of New Orleans, featuring many of his sides for Chess subsidiaries.


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