The Entertainers - Fats Waller (1929 - 1943)

Russell Perry BY

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By far the most commercially successful of the stride pianists, Fats Waller made his reputation (and his living) through comedy. "He wasn't witty, if that word is taken to imply a kind of humor too subtle to engender belly laughs—he was funny. He was also bigger than life, Rabelaisian in intake, energy, and output. His greatest joy was playing Bach on the organ, but he buttered his bread as a clown, complete with a mask as fixed as that of Bert Williams or Spike Jones. It consisted of a rakishly tilted derby, one size too small, and Edwardian mustache that fringed his upper lip, eyebrows as thick as paint and pliable as curtains, flirtatious eyes, a mouth alternately pursed or widened in a dimpled smile, and immense girth, draped in the expensive suits and ties of a dandy."—Gary Giddins


  • Host Intro 0:00
  • Fats Waller & His Rhythm. "Hold Tight (Want Some Sea Food, Mama)" from The Middle Years, Part 2 (1938-1940) (Bluebird RCA) 2:34
  • Fats Waller & His Rhythm. "Christopher Columbus" from The Norton Jazz Recordings (Norton) 4:45
  • Host speaks 7:35
  • Fats Waller & His Rhythm. "Until The Real Thing Comes Along" from The Jazz Singers (Smithsonian) 9:03
  • Fats Waller & His Rhythm. "I'm Gonna Sit Right Down And Write Myself A Letter" from I'm Gonna Sit Right Down: The Early Years, Part 2 (Bluebird RCA) 12:26
  • Fats Waller & His Rhythm. "Your Feet's Too Big" from The Middle Years, Part 2 (1938-1940) (Bluebird RCA) 15:55
  • Host speaks 18:59
  • Fats Waller. "Honeysuckle Rose" from Jazz Piano: A Smithsonian Collection (Smithsonian) 21:33
  • Fats Waller. "Smashing Thirds" from The Complete Recorded Works, Vol. 2: A Handful Of Keys (JSP) 24:33
  • Host speaks 27:42
  • Fats Waller. "Keepin' Out Of Mischief Now" from Jazz Piano: A Smithsonian Collection (Smithsonian) 28:24
  • Fats Waller. "Viper's Drag" from Fats Waller: 1934 -1935 (Encyclopedia of Jazz) 31:30
  • Host speaks 34:27
  • Fats Waller & His Rhythm. "Honeysuckle Rose." from Fats Waller: 1934 -1935 (Classics) 36:00
  • Fats Waller & His Rhythm. "Squeeze Me" from The Middle Years, Part 2 (1938-1940) (Bluebird RCA) 38:37
  • Fats Waller & His Rhythm and his Orchestra. "The Jitterbug Waltz" from Last Years (1940-43) (Bluebird RCA) 41:43
  • Fats Waller & His Rhythm. "Ain't Misbehavin'" from Last Years (1940-43) (Bluebird RCA) 45:05
  • Host speaks 49:00
  • Fats Waller & His Rhythm. "The Joint Is Jumpin'" from The Middle Years, Part 1 (1936—1938) (Bluebird RCA) 49:27
  • Host speaks 52:14
  • Fats Waller. "Carolina Shout" from Jazz Piano: A Smithsonian Collection (Smithsonian) 53:33
  • Host Outro 55:50

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