by Robert Wilkinson
Just about everybody on Earth knows the music of Fats Waller!
Thomas Wright "Fats" Waller (May 21, 1904 – December 15, 1943) was a major jazz pianist, songwriter, and both musical and comedic entertainer who was the force behind taking Harlem stride piano into the foundations of modern jazz piano. Oscar Levant called him “the black Horowitz.”
Get ready to kick back and enjoy a bygone era and the great music that came out of the 20s and 30s! For your enjoyment, here are a few by the master of stride!
First, from the 1935 musical “Hooray for Love,” here’s Fats, Bill “Bojangles” Robinson, and Jeni LeGone performing “Living In A Great Big Way”
Also from a 1935 musical, “I’ve Got My Fingers Crossed”
From the 1943 movie “Stormy Weather,” Fats "live" offering up his biggest hit, “Ain’t Misbehavin’”
Also from “Stormy Weather,” Fat and Ada Brown serving up “That Ain’t Right”
Here's a great movie clip with Fats “live” performing “Your Feet’s Too Big”
And yet another early movie clip with Fats jumpin’! “The Joint Is Jumpin’”
An utterly fantastic film clip of Fats giving us his classic “Honeysuckle Rose”
We now move into studio versions of Fats’ recordings!
From 1943, Fats’ original studio version of “You’re A Viper (the Reefer Song)”
Fats on organ giving us “Jitterbug Waltz”
From 1935, “Lulu’s Back in Town”
From 1938, a live recording of Fats and his Rhythm! Fats Waller and the Rhythm Live at the NY Yacht Club
From 1939, “Dinah”
Here’s one that Fats had to sell when he was younger to more successful musicians just to make a buck. While there is some controversy, I’d probably have to go with Fats as the composer, since that was the way the industry worked back then. “I Can’t Give You Anything But Love, Baby”
Some stride piano!!
We finish this celebration of the life of a keyboard Master with a four part bio!
I found this gem to close today, which gives us Christmas in May!! Here's the great Fats Waller pounding the keys on a great offering of "Swingin' Them Jingle Bells."
If you want to check out one of the premier stride jazz piano players alive (and still touring), please check out the website and music of Judy Carmichael. She's an old friend, and one of the best live shows going today. Right now she's somewhere between Istanbul and Dover, England. This performer is seriously one of the best, so if you're near London June 10-14, 2014 (NYC and the Hamptons after that) and can catch her act, by all means do so!!
RIP Fats. You influenced millions of musicians, and still make my feet happy! Thanks for showing up, Brother....
Copyright © 2014 Robert Wilkinson