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Handful of Keys

Fats Waller

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Album Review

As a label, the U.K.'s Proper does a pretty decent job of assembling a great cross-section of tracks, decent sound, and fairly annotated notes (though labels names seldom if ever appear either in liner notes or in track notations, only catalog number...hmmmm) all for a really great price. Hardcore fans of most artists will either have most or all of the material in their boxes, but those curious enough to look deeper into an artist than a single- or double-disc hits package will want to investigate Proper's catalog. This set of Fats Waller material covers the years 1922 -1943, virtually his entire professional career. Each disc has its own title and runs basically chronologically, from his solo work through his many ensembles. This is a laymen's collection, and is hardly exhaustive of any period, rather merely representative. True fans will want to seek out the RCA sets which are exhaustive in their research, presentation and execution. This is a fine introductory package, but that's it.

Biography

Born: May 21, 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