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Waller, Fats: A Handful of Fats - Classic Hits (1929-1942)

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Album Review

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

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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