Slim Gaillard's Yep Roc Heresy, the first Jazz Song in Arabic

Wednesday, January 26, 2011 | |

Food is always an amazing inspiration. Just learned about the great Slim Gaillard today and loved Yep Roc Heresy.

From Wikipedia:
Arabic is sprinkled about Gaillard's songs. The song "Yep-Roc-Heresy" 3:07 - 1945 is a good example. This song is made up almost entirely of Arabic food names. The title of the song is taken from the first two words of the song, which are "yabraq" or in Arabic "يبرق" (pronounced "يبرأ" "yabra'" in the Levant, and mostly in northern parts of today's Syria), which is another name for the Turkish Dolma or stuffed grape leaves. The second word is "[harisseh]," which is a sweet desert made from semolina flour - recipe.

Other Arabic words used in the song are: Burghal (burghal), Mahshi (stuffed), kibbeh siniyyeh (kibbe in a tray), anna biddi (I want), Masari bahh (No money), banadoura (tomato), ruzz (rice), eidi maksura (I am broke), Arak (Arabic: عرق [ʕaraq]) (a liquorice liquor), lahame mishwie (grilled meat), basal (onion).

This may be the first jazz song in Arabic. Some say he was reading from a menu of an Arabic restaurant, but this does not explain for his use of phrases such as, "no money" or "I am broke."

In the 1940s, the song was "banned in the radio for being suggestive", for its suspicious lyric references to drugs and crime.

The actual origin from these phrases comes from his time living in Detroit. He was out of money by the time he made it to Detroit and was turned down a job at Ford. An Armenian woman named Rose Malhalab (last name indicates connection to Aleppo, Syria) took Slim in, where he lived in the basement of her and her husband's beauty shop on Woodward Avenue. She cooked much Arabic food for him, explaining Slim's entire song.