To most people, Louis Prima is perhaps better known as the voice of the lovable orang-utan ‘King Louis' in Walt Disney's 1966 animated feature film ‘The Jungle Book' in which he sang ‘I Wanna Be Like You'. However, Louis Prima was so much more that the voice of a Disney cartoon character. Prima was one of a rare breed of entertainers – that included Slim Gaillard and Louis Jordan - around whom parties instantly sprung up and lasted a lifetime.At the zenith of Prima's career, such events took place almost nightly in the noisy packed lounges of such popular gambling resorts as Las Vegas, Lake Tahoe and Reno with a livewire act that also included Keely Smith and driven by booting tenor sax man Sam Butera & The Witnesses. This was a time when Italian-American crooners such as Frank Sinatra, Perry Como, Frankie Laine, Vic Damone, Dean Martin, Buddy Greco, Bobby Darin and many others were a dominant force in chart-aimed popular music..
While not a crooner in the accepted sense, Prima played up his Italian-American roots to the max, portraying himself more of a stereotypical good natured fall guy rather than a hardnosed wise guy with hits including ‘Angelina'/'Zooma, Zooma', ‘Buona Sera', ‘Oh Maria' and the like. What Louis Prima created was a truly unique style. Often, driven by a frantic shuffle beat, he blended an energized gumbo of New Orleans jazz, emergent rock ‘n' roll, comedy, Bebop, R&B, popular standards, risque double-entendres and the plain ridiculous all topped off with a nonsensical mixture of jive speak, Neapolitan slang and just plain bad English.
Though Prima died in 1978, since then his music has featured in around 100 movies and TV shows including ‘CASINO' (‘Angelina'/'Zooma, Zooma'), ‘MICKEY BLUE EYES' (‘Buona Sera'), ‘ANALYZE THIS' (‘When You're Smiling'). ‘THE SOPRANOS' (‘Sing, Sing,Sing') then there is ‘MAD DOG AND GLORY'. There is a scene in this movie when, having spent the previous evening practicing the horizontal mambo with Glory (Uma Thurman), shy police photographer Wayne ‘Mad Dog' Dobie (Robert De Niro) arrives at the scene of a grisly mafia slaying early the following morning. He glances around the restaurant and while slipping on a pair of latex gloves, spots a neon-lit juke box, drops a coin into the slot and makes his selection.As Louis Prima's ‘Just A Gigolo' blasts out, a grinning Dobie shouts, "LOUIS PRIMA! THE BEST!” then sings along to the record while examining the bloody corpses, gesturing wildly as his Chicago police department colleagues look on in disbelief.
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Angelina/Zooma Zooma / Buona Sera. Senorita / Just A Gigolo/I Ain't Got Nobody / Oh Marie / Basin Street Blues/When It's Sleepy Time Down South (Medley) / Brooklyn Boogie / Hey! Ba-Ba-Re-Bop / Jump Jive An' Wail / 5 Months, 2 Weeks, 2 Days / Banana Split For My Baby / When You're Smiling/The Sheik Of Araby (Medley) / Pennies From Heaven / Josephine, Please No Lean On The Bell / Sing, Sing, Sing (With A Swing) / That Old Black Magic / Lazy River / Hey, Boy! Hey, Girl! / Civilization (Bongo, Bongo, Bongo / Sunday Kind Of Love - The Harp-Tones / A Sunday Kind Of Love - Etta James