Handful of Keys: 1922-1935

A Handful of Keys: 1922-1935

by Fats Waller
     
 

A wonderfully selected chronological taste of Fats Waller from his first piano solo up through the glorious ensemble swing of 1935. Many recent U.S. attempts at a Waller sampler seem haphazard by comparison. Ever since the deletion of his entire Bluebird catalog, the European labels have been a great source of consolation for disgruntled admirers of this man's music.…  See more details below

Overview

A wonderfully selected chronological taste of Fats Waller from his first piano solo up through the glorious ensemble swing of 1935. Many recent U.S. attempts at a Waller sampler seem haphazard by comparison. Ever since the deletion of his entire Bluebird catalog, the European labels have been a great source of consolation for disgruntled admirers of this man's music. One irritating shortcoming of most American reissues has been an apparent reluctance to include more than a thimbleful of Waller's exciting material from the 1920s. Nearly half of the sides included here date from before 1930. This allows the listener to follow the growth of young Thomas Waller and to arrive at a greater appreciation of his impact upon the world. Here is Fats cutting a hot piano solo at the age of 19, daring to play such stuff on the pipe organ a few years later, and incorporating both instruments into hot ensembles, resulting in some of the toughest records of the entire decade. (All that's missing is the knuckles 'n' know-how piano solo "Blue Black Bottom" of 1927, but you can't have everything.) Waller was the first jazz organist, and the inclusion of two organ solos makes this disc all the more valuable, even if the liner notes imply that he didn't record with the organ between the years 1929 and 1942. (On the contrary, Waller's 1935 recording of "Night Wind" is among the loveliest of his organ performances, and he trundled the instrument out on a regular basis throughout his career, particularly during the year 1939.) Only three of the 1929 piano solos are included, but they illustrate perfectly why all of Waller's piano solos need to be made available and kept in circulation for the rest of time, possibly protected by an act of Congress or a United Nations resolution. For these are masterpieces worth contemplating over and over again. For the purposes of this CD, three will do, but there's plenty more piano solos where these came from, and one can never have enough. The inclusion of a piano duet with Benny Payne comes as a surprise, as previous compilers have often seemed to resent the presence of a second pianist, but indeed there is something exciting about hearing Cab Calloway's piano man interacting with Fats. "I'm Crazy 'Bout My Baby" from 1930 (like "Red Hot Dan" of 1927) is an early glimpse of Fats the Vocalist. Even more than his piano it was Thomas Waller's voice that made him into a nationally famous recording artist by the middle of the 1930s. Nine examples of Waller and his Rhythm (recorded in 1934 and 1935) round off the album beautifully. Nearly every side they made in these first couple of years as a working unit had this fresh and cheeky quality. As time passed, some of the charm would occasionally fade as producers kept handing Fats ridiculously lousy material. Waller in 1939 or 1940 could sometimes sound just a little bit tired of Tin Pan Alley rejects. "A Porter's Love Song to a Chambermaid," on the other hand, is the perfect example of this artist's undiluted joie de vivre. What you have here then is Waller at his very best. Hopefully it will inspire some folks to go out and pursue the rest of his recordings, even if they have to purchase them from the French or the Dutch or the Swedes.

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Product Details

Release Date:
10/07/2003
Label:
Jazz Legends
UPC:
0723724560123
catalogNumber:
1011

Tracks

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Album Credits

Performance Credits

Fats Waller   Primary Artist,Organ,Piano,Celeste,Vocals
Casey   Guitar
Bill Coleman   Trumpet
Eddie Condon   Banjo
Jimmy Archey   Trombone
Herman Autrey   Trumpet
Arnold Boling   Drums
Arville Harris   Clarinet,Tenor Saxophone
Charlie Irvis   Trombone
Mezz Mezzrow   Alto,Clarinet,Alto Saxophone
Floyd O'Brien   Trombone
Benny Payne   Piano
Rudy Powell   Alto,Clarinet,Alto Saxophone
Gene Sedric   Clarinet,Tenor Saxophone
Charles Turner   Bass
Ben Whitted   Alto,Clarinet
Harry Dial   Drums,Vibes
Bobby Leecan   Guitar
Thomas Morris   Cornet
James Smith   Guitar
Billy Taylor   Bass
Charlie Gaines   Trumpet
Harry Dial's Blusicians   Drums,Vibes
Eddie King   Drums
Eddie King   Drums

Technical Credits

James P. Johnson   Composer
Stanley Turrentine   Composer
Fats Waller   Composer
W.C. Handy   Composer
Van Alexander   Composer
Andy Razaf   Composer
Frank Loesser   Composer
Fred E. Ahlert   Composer
Irving Caesar   Composer
Henry Creamer   Composer
Eddie DeLange   Composer
Charlie Irvis   Composer
J.C. Johnson   Composer
Turner Layton   Composer
Richard Maltby   Composer
George Whiting   Composer
Joseph Meyer   Composer
Scott Yanow   Liner Notes
Grady Watts   Composer
Harry Brooks   Composer
Joe Young   Composer
J.C. Jones   Composer
Alex Hill   Composer
Maceo Pinkard   Composer
Gerald Marks   Composer
Sidney Mitchell   Composer
Leo Wood   Composer
Sammy Lerner   Composer
Nat Schwartz   Composer
Winky Tharp   Composer
Sidney Easton   Composer
Murray Horwitz   Composer
Steve Pringle   Remastering
William D. Tennant   Executive Producer

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