I've been looking forward to this release for months and finally had the pleasure of hearing it yesterday. Much more than a tribute to the music and songs from the great Fleischer cartoons, GARY LUCAS' FLEISCHEREI is a rodeo ride on a maverick (and specifically Yiddish) form of jazz that doesn't get played much anymore, built around the musical imagination of Fleischer's musical director Sammy Timberg and the elastic, surreal, playfully risque sensibilities of the Betty Boop and Popeye cartoons. Broadway star Sarah Stiles is the perfect voice for this music, channeling Mae Questel's Betty Boop and Olive Oyl but not in a merely impressionistic way; she's a jazz diva singing in character, sounding as sexy, wheedling, dreamy, even as awkward and gangly as the lyric demands. I was also charmed by Gary's production of the album, which gives the alternately sweetly lilting and raucous, humorous, chicken-throttling performances (played on vintage instruments, no less) a near-monaural, acoustic, hand-crafted sound that occasionally put me in the mind of Captain Beefheart's LICK MY DECALS OFF, BABY. The closer is a remarkable recreation of the entire soundtrack of the 1935 cartoon "Beware of Barnacle Bill." Make this CD a hit, because there is much more gold to be mined from these hills, including "We Aim To Please", "A Dream Walking" and "Olive Oyl For President."