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Reviewers: Don Mather, Dick Stafford, Marc Bridle, John Eyles, Ian Lace, Colin Clarke, Jack Ashby




Fats Waller - piano, vocal and celeste and His Rhythm except for 2 -solo piano, 9- Lousiana Sugar Babes and Rhythm plus Orchestra.

Recorded 1929 - 1943 New York City and Hollywood.

Bluebird's Best 09206 63926 2



1. Ain't Misbehavin'
2. Smashing Thirds
3. Don't Let It Bother You
4. Honeysuckle Rose
5. A Porter's Love Song To A Chambermaid
6. Rosetta
7. Sweet And Low
8. Keepin' Out Of Mischief Now
9. Willow Tree
10. The Jitterbug Waltz
11. Your Feet's Too Big
12. Squeeze Me
13. Then I'll Be Tired Of You
14. Mandy

Once again Bluebird have produced an excellent compilation for their "Best Of " series. I was introduced to the music of Fats Waller by my father the moment I showed any interest in Jazz and it has long been a favourite form of the idiom. The present release is, arguably, as good a selection as any. However, with an artist of such abiding popularity as Waller, there will always be someone's personal choice that is not included. If it had been up to me I would probably have added a few more instrumentals along with such numbers as "Serenade To A Wealthy Widow " and "Blue Because Of You".

Waller was capable of turning in a first rate performance no matter what the idiom or instrumentation - all of which aspects of his artistry are more than amply illustrated here. His prowess as a composer is shown in such tunes as "Ain't Misbehavin' " and " Honeysuckle Rose ". His pianistic skills are to the fore on "Smashing Thirds " and "Sweet And Slow ". He can be heard as both organist and composer on "The Jitterbug Waltz" ( a tune which has continued to fascinate many and diverse musicians right up to the present date ) . Waller was perhaps most popular as a comic vocalist and "Your Feet's Too Big " has become one of the all-time favourites in this style. He was also able, when the mood took him, to give quite tender vocal treatment to certain songs, as can be heard on " Then I'll Be Tired Of You ". However, the tongue was always close to the cheek and songs like "Don't Let It Bother You " will probably remain as more typical examples of his output.

Fats Waller could be said to be one of the most complete performers thrown up by the music so far. Not only was he possessed of the qualities already mentioned, but he was also a sublime piano player in the Harlem Stride tradition. Many listeners prefer his instrumental ability over many of his contemporaries and over many subsequent performers on keyboard. It cannot be denied that there was a clarity to his playing that has possibly been equalled but probably not surpassed. He had the technique to produce high speed runs of great lucidity and evenness which would not have been amiss if rendered by the great Art Tatum.

The supporting musicians are excellent throughout and special mention must be made of the wonderful Gene Sedric on clarinet and tenor saxophone. Here was a player who could play swinging Jazz or contribute humorous accompaniments to Waller's vocals, in fact, he often proved to be the perfect foil for Fats. This disc is most definitely highly recommended !

Dick Stafford


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