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High On Fats...and Other Stuff

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Album Review

Judy Carmichael has long been a throwback to pre-bop times. One of the very few stride pianists of her generation (she was in her mid-40s when this recording was made), Carmichael plays in a style reminiscent at times of Fats Waller and James P. Johnson, but with her own personal voice. Even though her trio set with Mike Hashim (who doubles on soprano and alto) and guitarist Chris Flory is sort of a tribute to Waller, only two of his compositions are performed ("Gladyse" and "I've Got a Feelin' I'm Falling"), and most of the other songs do not have any direct connection to Fats. However, the joy of Waller's music is very much present, along with some hard-driving swing. The project was a bit unusual, because as Carmichael made the CD, she was also recording for a reproducing piano system (a modern-day equivalent of a player piano). However, the added pressure of making two recordings at once is absent. Among the many highlights of the delightful set are "Riverboat Shuffle," "Airmail Special," "Dinah" and two versions of "A Smo-o-ooth One." Recommended.


Born: 1952 in Lynwood, CA

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s

Judy Carmichael is a real rarity, a pianist who came up after 1950 who specialized in the pre-World War II piano style called stride. Carmichael, who was not even born in 1950, started on piano when her grandfather offered 50 dollars to the first grandchild who could play "Maple Leaf Rag." She played music for the first time professionally when she was 19, and was a ragtime pianist at Disneyland when she discovered stride piano. In 1980, she made her recording debut on Progressive, utilizing four...
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High On Fats...and Other Stuff, Judy Carmichael
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