The Complete Recorded Works, Vol. 3: Rhythm and Romance
The third volume in JSP's massive library of Fats Waller's Complete Recorded Works brings together all of the commercial studio recordings he made between November 16, 1934, and August 1, 1936. The first four tracks ("African Ripples," "Clothes Line Ballet," "Alligator Crawl," and "Viper's Drag") serve as an excellent prologue, for these are some of the choicest piano solos of Waller's entire career. The other 99 selections document the explosive success of Fats Waller & His Rhythm, a powerful little sextet that found itself doubled into a 12-piece big band on "Fat and Greasy," "Functionizin'," and the riotously rowdy "I Got Rhythm." Expertly remastered and chronologically presented, Waller's works at last receive the special handling they so richly deserve. Alternate takes are stashed at the end of disc four, except for half a dozen instrumentals that served well as flip sides of the original 78-rpm platters and work even better as wordless continuations of the vocal takes: "I'm a Hundred Per Cent for You," "Baby Brown," "I Ain't Got Nobody," "Whose Honey Are You?," "Rosetta," and "What's the Reason (I'm Not Pleasin' You?)." The fourth disc also contains everything recorded at the brilliantly creative session that took place on June 8, 1936: "Black Raspberry Jam," "Bach Up to Me" (a bowed bass feature for Charles Turner), "Fractious Fingering," "Paswonky," "Lounging at the Waldorf," and "Latch On." While the previous volumes in this series are vitally important and endlessly fascinating, Vol. 3 is by far the best possible choice for anyone who wants and needs a definitive dose of Fats Waller's greatest recorded performances.