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Best of Fats Waller

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Album Review

Fats Waller was a vocalist, composer, even a comedian and satirist, but most importantly, he was a phenomenally gifted piano player, and his smooth stride style always sounds fresh and vital. This three-disc, 66-track overview of his RCA Victor recordings (he began recording for Victor Records in 1926 and continued with the label until his death in 1943) spotlights all the aspects of his immense talent, as a singer (check out the assured "I'm Crazy 'Bout My Baby"), composer (the classic "Ain't Misbehavin'" is included here in several versions), and solo pianist ("African Ripples," "Viper's Drag," and a fine version of James P. Johnson's "Carolina Shout"). Few performers in the history of jazz, or in the pop realm for that matter, have been able to combine such musical brilliance with such a steady, fun, and crowd-pleasing manner, traits that made Waller the prototypical entertainer. This is joyous music.

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...
Full Bio