Thursday, July 3, 2008

Mickey Katz: Bagel Call Rag

The search for the sweet potato man image led me inadvertently to John Albok. Searching for John Albok images somehow got me onto bagels. Bagels got me to Mickey Katz. When you learn about Mickey Katz you realize he set the stage for Allan Sherman.
Mickey Katz (June 15, 1909 Born: Cleveland, Ohio - April 30, 1985) was a U.S. Jewish comedian and musician who received his first moments of fame in the 1940s as a member of Spike Jones and His City Slickers where he was most famous for his "glugging" vocal sound effects on tunes like "Cocktails for Two" and others. He later went on to perform his own parodic musical review and record highly popular "ethnic" comedy albums on the Capitol label where he would perform English-Yiddish parody songs. He was also recognized as a master of what would later be called Klezmer style clarinet and had several hits during his long career. Though Katz sang primarily in broken Yiddish, he is often as recognized as one of the godfathers of American song parody which would later be advanced by the likes of Allan Sherman and, in the 1980s, Weird Al Yankovic.
Katz had reached his professional peak during the 1950s with a series of full-length albums for Capitol records that were predominately heard by Jewish-American audiences. Though he had released an acclaimed album of traditional Eastern European klezmer recordings, Music for Weddings, Bar Mitzvahs, and Brisses (and later his own deferential and nostalgic salute to Fiddler on the Roof),
Katz and his group can be seen in the movie Thoroughly Modern Millie accompanying Julie Andrews as she sings a Yiddish song at a Jewish wedding.
Katz is the father of Broadway legend Joel Grey and a grandfather of the actress Jennifer Grey. In the early 1980s he told the story of his life in a biography called Papa Play for Me.
A number of famous Jewish musicians, including those with their own bands have recorded with him including Manny Klein, Ziggy Elman and Si Zentner.
Jazz musician Don Byron recorded a tribute to Mickey Katz in 1993 entitled Don Byron Plays The Music of Mickey Katz.

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