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Fats Waller - Transcriptions, Vol. 2 (1939)

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Album Review

This sick sad world can always use more Fats Waller reissues, especially if they are as cleanly reproduced as this bargain-priced Naxos release, the second volume in a series of transcription roundups. Unlike the 1935 transcriptions released on Vol. 1, which were mostly solo workouts arranged in medleys, the mighty Fats brought his entire nifty Rhythm combo into New York's Associated Transcriptions studio one fine day in August 1939. Also, these are all 78-rpm single-length tracks, adjuncts to the material that he was putting out prolifically on Victor and Bluebird 78s. In any case, one perfectly turned, witty piano solo after another tumbles out of the keyboard, spelled by John Hamilton's trumpet and Gene Sedric's clarinet and tenor sax, driven by Fats' always jumping rhythm section. Two of Fats' imperishable standards come back to back, an exuberant "Honeysuckle Rose" and a hoked-up "Ain't Misbehavin'" (was Fatsy Watsy getting just a bit bored with his huge hit by then?). Listeners also receive larger helpings of Fats' irrepressible vocal asides and intros than on commercial releases; the one that precedes "The Spider and the Fly" is a real doozy. Then, for some reason, a wave of melancholy seems to overcome Fats. He dismisses his sidemen and, alone, knocks out five more piano solos — four standards plus his "Handful of Keys" — the subdued mood fully lifting only in the latter tune. Excellent sound from the original acetates, with a full ample bass end. ~ Richard S. Ginell, Rovi

Biography

Born: 21 May 1904 in New York, NY

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '20s, '30s, '40s

Not only was Fats Waller one of the greatest pianists jazz has ever known, he was also one of its most exuberantly funny entertainers -- and as so often happens, one facet tends to obscure the other. His extraordinarily light and flexible touch belied his ample physical girth; he could swing as hard as any pianist alive or dead in his classic James P. Johnson-derived stride manner, with a powerful left hand delivering the octaves and tenths in a tireless, rapid, seamless stream. Waller also pioneered...
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