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Reviewers: Don Mather, Dick Stafford, Marc Bridle, John Eyles, Ian Lace, Colin Clarke, Jack Ashby



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FATS WALLER

A HANDFUL OF FATS

Original 1929 – 1942 Recordings

NAXOS Jazz Legends – 8.120760

 

1

Handful Of Keys

11

Honey Hush

2

Ain’t Misbehavin’

12

Your Feet’s Too Big

3

I’m Crazy About My Baby

13

Squeeze Me

4

Viper’s Drag

14

Darktown Strutters’ Ball

5

Twelfth Street Rag

15

Honeysucke Rose

6

Keepin’ Out Of Mischief Now

16

Georgia On My Mind

7

Tea For Two

17

Rockin’ Chair

8

The Joint Is Jumpin’

18

Carolina Shout

9

Two Sleepy People

19

The Jitterbug Waltz

10

Hold Tight (Want Some Seafood Mama)

20

Come And Get It

Any list of the most popular figures in jazz history is bound to include the accomplished Thomas ‘Fats’ Waller. He was a stride pianist from the James P. Johnson school and of immense repute as shown here on Johnson’s ‘Carolina Shout’ and his own ‘Viper’s Drag.’ He also excelled as a songwriter composing such standards as ‘Ain’t Misbehavin’ ‘Honeysuckle Rose’ and ‘The Jitterbug Waltz.’

The twenty tracks on ‘A Handful of Fats’ were recorded between 1929 and 1942 - he made his first record as a vocalist in 1931. Recognition as a major star and show business personality really took off after his signing for the Victor label in 1934. As the sleeve notes show, ‘During the next eight years he recorded 282 selections with his ‘Rhythm’ – a two horn sextet that featured trumpeter Herman Autrey, Gene Sedric on tenor and clarinet and guitarist Al Casey plus a variety of bassists and drummers.’

The ‘Rhythm’ sessions between 1935 and 1939 are representative material that shows Waller’s capability to create something memorable out of what were often mediocre tunes. This period also clarifies the seriousness of a musician who was sometimes termed, incorrectly I hasten to add, by the uninitiated as a jazz buffoon. Waller had inimitable talent and could also swing as well as anybody in the business.

Waller’s final recordings for Victor were made in May 1941 and from that date on this compilation we have ‘Honeysuckle Rose’ and two of Hoagy Carmichael’s compositions, ‘Georgia On My Mind’ and ‘ ‘Rockin’ Chair.’

After the ‘Rhythm’ disbanded, in 1942 Waller wrote the music for the show ‘Early To Bed’ and was featured briefly in the film ‘Stormy Weather.’ His renowned life of over-indulgence came abruptly to an end in December, 1943 but he left an immense legacy of music and fun.

Jack Ashby



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