Al “Jazzbo” Collins, and fairy tales from my youth that you should listen to

Al “Jazzbo” Collins at the microphone of WNEW AM radio in New York City, undated. Metromedia photo

I don’t know where they came from, or who in the family bought them. I think they appeared before 1956 and our move from Overland Avenue to Conant Avenue in Burley, Idaho.

There were two discs, 78 rpm as I recall. Fairy tales, told by a guy with a great baritone and cool jazz playing behind him. Four stories, right out of the nursery rhyme/fairy tale books — but with the conscience of a beat raconteur thrown in.

My favorite: “The Three Little Pigs.”

“Cream of Nowhere!”

Al “Jazzbo” Collins told the stories, according to the label. I think I was in my teens before I noticed the name of Steve Allen, polymath genius, as author. And I assumed that the narration was Allen in one of his characters, and maybe the jazz piano, too.

Later I discovered there really was an Al Collins, who went by the nickname Jazzbo. Two discs by a guy using Steven Allen’s writing . . .

I wish I had those discs now.

It’s almost impossible to do justice to the great beat twists in the stories, from memory. The music was good, and that can’t be retold. To tell the great good humor and joy of those records, you gotta have the records to listen to.

Then I stumbled across “The Three Little Pigs” on YouTube. Brilliantly, this video features an old record player playing the thing. It’s almost like we used to play it, set the needle down on the record and watch it spin while we listened.

6 Responses to Al “Jazzbo” Collins, and fairy tales from my youth that you should listen to

  1. rarpublic says:

    If you really want it, check out Discogs. From what I see there and your description, your family must have had the original 78s on the Brunswick label, but Brunswick and Capital both put them on on 45s, a few of which are reasonably priced in their marketplace. Apparently, an English label released a compilation CD of almost all his work in 2008, but I doubt your nostalgia runs that high in dollars. BTW, none of those listings are mine, and I don’t really recall hearing the name before now. Discogs also has a picture and a link to his Wikipedia bio.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Ellie says:

    I sent a link to Three Little Pigs to my daughter, who has always liked Steve Allen, even though he is not of her generation. She loved it and was surprised I had never shown it to her before. I found several others on YouTube, and had an evening of them.


  3. Ed Darrell says:

    Jazzbo made a bit of career out of those stories, and there were albums into the 1960s at least. I mean at some point to try to find them.

    And, wasn’t Steve Allen a greatly under-appreciated genius?


  4. These certainly brought memories. Today I have a couple of 78 records left but have nothing to play them on. One can find almost anything on YouTube if you look hard enough. Thanks for sharing!


  5. Ellie says:

    Thanks for those memories! Hadn’t thought of them in years.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. sbh says:

    1953. My parents had them–Red Riding Hood and the Three Little Pigs anyway–and used to play them for me on the old 78 record changer before I went to sleep. (You’d put a stack of records on a spindle and the machine would drop them and play them one by one.) There was a Steve Allen Goldilocks and Cinderella as well. Probably others I’ve forgotten.

    Liked by 1 person

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