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Fats Waller: Fats Waller on the Air 1938 Broadcasts

Ken Dryden By

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Fats Waller was one of the top Harlem stride pianists as well as a prolific composer. Waller discographer Stephen Taylor uncovered 15 unreleased tracks in his quest to remaster several of Waller's 1938 broadcasts for this compilation.

Three separate broadcasts are heard in complete form. The first is a studio session featuring Fats Waller and His Rhythm. Even without an audience, Waller acts as if he is in a nightclub, with his customary ad lib commentary. Unlike his commercial sessions, Waller focuses on his own compositions, romping through his hit "The Joint is Jumpin'" and playing lesser-known originals like the bittersweet ballad "Inside (This Heart of Mine)" and the upbeat "E Flat Blues."

The second broadcast originates from England, with lower fidelity due to it being a shortwave program. Following a brisk solo treatment of Irving Berlin's "Marie," singer Adelaide Hall joins the pianist for several numbers. Waller backs her on pipe organ in a dreamy "I Can't Give You Anything But Love," followed by Waller's stride masterpiece "Handful of Keys." Waller returns to the organ for a swinging treatment of "The Flat Foot Floogie," Hall following Waller's vocal chorus with one of her own, sounding less formal than on her recordings. All of this session is previously unissued.

Waller's October 1938 Yacht Club broadcast is complete for the first time. He focuses on pop songs, though he includes a lightly swinging take on his ballad "I Had to Do It" and a solo version of his snappy striding "African Ripples." The unissued material includes an instrumental of "Old Folks," highlighted by Gene Sedric's lush tenor sax. Four bonus tracks are remasterings of test pressings of singles plus a beautifully restored, humorous version of "Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child" (Waller unaccompanied on organ), made for the government's V-Disc program. Taylor includes detailed liner notes and discography information while his masterful touch at removing noise without removing the high frequencies is striking.

Track Listing: Ain't Misbehavin' (Theme); The Joint Is Jumpin'; Inside (This Heart of Mine); I Had To Do It; E Flat Blues; Honeysuckle Rose; Hold My Hand (Theme); Ain't Misbehavin' (Intro); Marie; I Can't Give You Anything But Love; Handful of Keys; That Old Feeling; The Flat Foot Floogie; Ain't Misbehavin' (Theme);Yacht Club Swing (Theme); You Can't Be Mine And Somebody Else's Too; Monday Mornin'; What Do You Know About Love?; I Had To Do It; African Ripples; I Got Rhythm; Old Folks; Some Of These Days; Stop Beatin' Around The Mulberry Bush; Summer Souvenirs; Yacht Club Swing (Theme); Dream Man (Make Me Dream Some More); I Used To Love You; Come Down To Earth My Angel; Sometimes I Feel Like A Motherless Child.

Personnel: Fats Waller: piano, vocals, Hammond organ, pipe organ; Gene Sedric: clarinet, tenor sax; Herman Autrey: trumpet; Al Casey: guitar; Cedric Wallace: bass; Slick Jones: drums; Adelaide Hall: vocals; Bill Coleman: trumpet; Billy Taylor: bass; Harry Dial: drums, vibes; Chauncey Graham: tenor sax; John Smith: guitar; Larry Hinton: drums; John Hamilton: trumpet.

Title: Fats Waller on the Air 1938 Broadcasts | Year Released: 2010 | Record Label: Tai Ping

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