Waller, Fats: A Handful of Fats - Classic Hits (1929-1942)
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In the wake of its series of Fats Waller transcriptions, Naxos' next inspiration was a "Fats' Greatest Hits" program, a hour's worth of his most famous Victor and Bluebird sides, with one Columbia thrown in. At the very least, there is a good balance between his solo piano recordings, his hundreds of sides with his combo, and a pair of late cuts with combo and orchestra. The set leads off with his ambidextrous display of solo piano prowess on "A Handful of Keys" and signature solo piano recording of "Ain't Misbehavin'" from his earliest 1929 Victors. "I'm Crazy About My Baby," the sole Columbia, marks the first vocal in the package, and before long, the piano solos give way to Fats and his rhythm, with some of his best-known riotous sides ("The Joint Is Jumpin'," "Your Feet's Too Big") leading the pack. More piano solos follow, and the penultimate track displays Fats on the Hammond organ with a big band in his sublime piece "Jitterbug Waltz." Actually, this CD would make a nearly ideal first purchase for a newcomer to Fats — for both the diverse selection of material and the faithful-to-the-source Naxos transfers, which on the latter count, trumps any of BMG's compilations of the hits. ~ Richard S. Ginell, Rovi