Little Georgie and the Shufflin' Hungarians
Queen Bee Brand Records CD unnumbered, 1994.
"People let me tell ya, there ain't nothin' mo' meaner than havin' your
toes sucked on by Satan's vacuum cleaner... " -- L'il Georgie
L'il Georgie (George Rossi) must be the hardest working man in Syracuse
show business. He's writing all the tunes, singing all the songs,
playing all the keyboards, writing all the horn arrangements, you name
it. I can't quite put my finger on it, but Georgie seems to leap out at
you from every direction as soon as you flip open the jewel case. He's
like your best friend who has this band that you just gotta see, right.
C'mon. I'll put you on the list. Bring some friends. Bring your folks.
I'll buy you a drink. I'll buy me a drink.
All right already, Georgie. I like it. I really like it. I didn't want
to, but I admit it, I do. I believe you now, Georgie. You're right about
the Hungarians. You're right about the George-O-Lettes. You guys are
pretty good, and I even mean that.
This eponymous first release from "quite arguably the best New Orleans
style band operating outside of Louisiana" (don't tell Steve
Ferguson -- see our review) is a pretty tasty little slice of
voodoo rhythm and boogie. It's rough around the edges, but eminently
likable, and liable to grow on you if you give it a chance. The highs
easily outnumber the lows, and you can tell they mean it. That's more
than most can say.
While they bill themselves as a second-line, cajun-spiced r&b orchestra,
I hear as much Billy (Vera) and the Beaters (and maybe even a little
Meatloaf) as I do Professor Longhair and Dr. John. The tunes run the
gamut from skunky swamp blues to big swing rave-ups. Throughout, the
George-O-Lettes add delicious backing harmonies and response to
Georgie's "cigarette chafed" wail and call. And, of course, the
centerpiece is Georgie's insistent Crescent City ivory pounding.
I wish the recording did more to advance the cause. The scales are
tipped uncomfortably toward the high end of the spectrum. The "12'
Steinway B" and tuba are likely to get sizzled out by the hi hat. Fine
work by the Hungarian Horns sometimes ends up sounding like a cheap
synthesizer. I'd forgive all for a well balanced live recording of the
orchestra in full swing. I wouldn't be surprised to hear that Georgie
has one in the bag by now. [Indeed! The next release from the hardest
working man in Syracuse is a live two-CD set. -- Glenn Brooks]
If you happen to be in the Syracuse area (or Wilkes-Barre, PA, the other
place they play), you might want to stop by and pick up a copy of this
CD before they run out. The liner notes fold out into a Dante-Esquivel
vision of the band suitable for something. Or order it direct (see
Bless his heart, Georgie intends to be a success. But you know, I found
myself wishing he just didn't try quite so hard. Georgie's kind of like
that real tasty little lunch spot on State Street with the sign that's
way too big. Just keep that be-bim-bop coming, Georgie. We know you're
there. -- Jason Staczek
L'il Georgie, vocals, piano, Hammond B-3, Wurlitzer electric piano,
The Amazin' Rhythm Dicks: Big Daddy Paul LaRonde, bass, funk-u-lators,
vocals; Mark Tiffault, drum-u-lators, foot pro-peddlers, percussion.
The Hungarian Horns: Frank Gross, baritone and tenor saxes; Don "Diego"
Williams, tenor and alto saxes, flute; Jeff "The W.A.S.P. Love God"
Stockham, trumpet, valve trombone, alto horn, baritone horn and tuba.
The George-O-Lettes: Gail Sampson, soprano; Jackie Clarke, alto; Angela
The Man From Trinidad: Irvin Daniel, percussion and good vibes.
and many other "special ghosts"
Produced by L'il Georgie and Bob Francis Acquaviva, engineered and mixed
by Bob Francis Acquaviva, mastered by Tim Gilles.
of related interest
Little Georgie and the Shuffling Hungarians
Live from Styleen's Rhythm Palace, Syracuse, NY, Queen Bee Brand Records 2xCD
QB 96662, 1996
True to Jason's request, here is a live twofer from Georgie and the crew. Get 'em both at
the Georgie home page, or
write to them at:
Queen Bee Brand Records
Syracuse NY 13208
Billy and the Beaters
By Request: Best of Billy and the Beaters, Atlantic/Rhino CD 70858-2