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Wednesday, December 8, 2010

All that meat AND some potatoes..........Fats Waller Pt.1

A Fats Waller list..............

Fats Waller (May 21, 1904 – December 15, 1943), born Thomas Wright Waller, was a jazz pianist, organist, composer, singer, and comedic entertainer. He was the youngest of four children born to Adaline Locket Waller, wife of the Reverend Edward Martin Waller.

Fats Waller started playing the piano when he was six and graduated to the organ of his father's church four years later. At the age of fourteen he was playing the organ at Harlem's Lincoln Theater and within twelve months he had composed his first rag. Waller's first piano solos (Muscle Shoals Blues and Birmingham Blues) were recorded in October 1922 when he was only 18 years old.

He was a skilled pianist, and master of stride piano, having been the prize pupil and later friend and colleague of the greatest of the stride pianists, James P. Johnson. Waller was one of the most popular performers of his era, finding critical and commercial success in his homeland and in Europe. He was also a prolific songwriter and many songs he wrote or co-wrote are still popular, such as "Honeysuckle Rose", "Ain't Misbehavin'" and "Squeeze Me". Fellow pianist and composer Oscar Levant dubbed Waller "the black Horowitz".  Waller composed many novelty swing tunes in the 1920s and 1930s and sold them for relatively small sums. When the compositions became hits, other songwriters claimed them as their own. Many standards are alternatively and sometimes controversially attributed to Waller.

The anonymous sleeve notes on the 1960 RCA (UK) album 'Handful of Keys' state that Waller copyrighted over 400 new tunes, many of which co-written with his closest collaborator Andy Razaf. After Waller's death in 1943, Razaf described his partner as 'the soul of melody....a man who made the piano sing...both big in body and in mind...known for his generosity...a bubbling bundle of joy'. Gene Sedric, a clarinetist who played with Waller on some of his 1930s recordings, is quoted in these same sleeve notes recalling Waller's recording technique with considerable admiration. 'Fats was the most relaxed man I ever saw in a studio', he said, 'and so he made everybody else relaxed. After a balance had been taken, we'd just need one take to make a side, unless it was a kind of difficult number'.

Waller's touch varied and he was a master of dynamics and tension and release. He played with many performers, from Nat Shilkret (on Victor 21298-A) and Gene Austin to Erskine Tate to Adelaide Hall, but his greatest success came with his own five- or six-piece combo, "Fats Waller and his Rhythm".

His playing once put him at risk of injury. Waller was kidnapped in Chicago leaving a performance in 1926. Four men bundled him into a car and took him to the Hawthorne Inn, owned by gangster Al Capone. Fats was ordered inside the building, and found a party in full swing. Gun to his back, he was pushed towards a piano, and told to play. A terrified Waller realized he was the "surprise guest" at Al Capone's birthday party, and took comfort that the gangsters didn't intend to kill him. According to rumor, Waller played for three days. When he left the Hawthorne Inn, he was very drunk, extremely tired, and had earned thousands of dollars in cash from Capone and other party-goers as tips.

Waller wrote "Squeeze Me" (1919), "Keepin' Out of Mischief Now", "Ain't Misbehavin'" (1929), "Blue Turning Grey Over You", "I've Got a Feeling I'm Falling" (1929), "Honeysuckle Rose" (1929), and "Jitterbug Waltz" (1942). He collaborated with the Tin Pan Alley lyricist Andy Razaf. He composed stride piano display pieces such as "Handful of Keys", "Valentine Stomp" and "Viper's Drag".

He enjoyed success touring the United Kingdom and Ireland in the 1930s. He appeared in one of the first BBC Television broadcasts. While in Britain, Waller also recorded a number of songs for EMI on their Compton Theatre organ located in their Abbey Road Studios in St John's Wood. He appeared in several feature films and short subject films, most notably "Stormy Weather" in 1943, which was released July 21, just months before his death, December 15, 1943. For the hit Broadway show, "Hot Chocolates", he and Razaf wrote "(What Did I Do to Be So) Black and Blue" (1929), which became a hit for Ethel Waters and Louis Armstrong. This searing treatment of racism refutes the early criticism of Waller that his creations and performances were "shallow entertainment". 

Waller performed Bach organ pieces for small groups on occasion. Waller influenced many pre-bop jazz pianists; Count Basie and Erroll Garner have both reanimated his hit songs (notably, "Ain't Misbehavin'"). In addition to his playing, Waller was known for his many quips during his performances.

Waller contracted pneumonia and died on a cross country train trip near Kansas City, Missouri on December 15, 1943. Upon arrival at Kansas City, word of Waller's death immediately spread throughout the station and onto another train headed west. On that train was Louis Armstrong who upon hearing the news cried for hours.

A Broadway musical revue showcasing Waller tunes entitled Ain't Misbehavin' was produced in 1978. (The show and a star of the show, Nell Carter, won Tony Awards.) The show opened at the Longacre Theatre and ran for over 1600 performances. It was revived on Broadway in 1988. Performed by five African American actors, it included such songs as "Honeysuckle Rose", "This Joint Is Jumpin'", and "Ain't Misbehavin'".


Fats Waller

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Fats Waller's father, Edward Waller, was a Baptist lay preacher who conducted open air religious services in Harlem, at which as a child Waller played reed organ. He played piano at his public school and at the age of 15 became organist at the Lincoln Theatre on 135th Street. His father hoped that Waller would follow a religious calling rather than a career in jazz, but after the death of his mother Adeline Waller in 1920, he moved in with the family of the pianist Russell B. T. Brooks. Waller met James P. Johnson, under whose tutelage he developed as a pianist and through whose influence he came to make piano rolls — starting in 1922 with Got to Cool My Doggies Now. There is some evidence to support Waller's claims that during his formative years as a pianist he studied with Leopold Godowsky and composition with Carl Bohm at the Juilliard School.

In October 1922, Waller made his recording debut as a soloist for Okeh with Muscle Shoals Blues and Binningham Blues. He began a series of recordings the same year as accompanist for several blues singers including Sara Martin, Alberta Hunter, and Maude Mills. In 1923, a collaboration with Clarence Williams led to the publication of Waller's Wild Cat Blues, which Williams recorded with his Blue Five, including Sidney Bechet (July 1923). Another composition, Squeeze Me, was published the same year; these began to establish Waller's reputation as a composer of material performed and recorded by other artists. 1923 also saw his broadcasting debut for a Newark local station, followed by regular appearances on WHN of New York. Waller continued to broadcast as a singer and soloist throughout his life, including the long-running Fats Waller's Rhythm Club and Moon River (on which he played organ). During the early 1920s, he continued as an organist at the Lincoln and Lafayette theaters in New York.

In 1927, Waller recorded his own composition Whiteman Stomp with Fletcher Henderson's orchestra. Henderson also made use of other works by Waller, including Crazy 'bout My Baby and Stealing Apples. Waller's other work as a composer with the lyricists Edgar Dowell, J. C. Johnson, Andy Razaf, and Spencer Williams produced such songs as Honeysuckle Rose and Black and Blue. With Razaf he worked on much of the music for the all-black Broadway musical Keep Shufflin' (1928). Their later collaborations for the stage included the shows Load of Coal and Hot Chocolates (which opened in May 1929 and transferred onto Broadway on June 20 and incorporated the song Ain't Misbehavin' as a vehicle first for Cab Calloway and later Louis Armstrong). Waller's Carnegie Hall debut was on April 27, 1928, where he was a piano soloist in a version of Johnson's fantasy Yamekraw for piano and orchestra.

In 1926, Waller began his recording association with Victor, his principal record company for the rest of his life, with the organ solos St. Louis Blues and his own Lenox Avenue Blues. Although he recorded with various groups, including Morris's Hot Babes (1927), Fats Waller's Buddies (1929) (one of the earliest interracial groups to record), and McKinney's Cotton Pickers (1929), his most important contribution to the Harlem stride piano tradition was a series of solo recordings of his own compositions: Handful of Keys, Smashing Thirds, Numb Fumblin', and Valentine Stomp (1929). After sessions with Ted Lewis (1930), Jack Teagarden (1931), and Billy Banks's Rhythmakers (1932), he began in May 1934 the voluminous series of recordings with a small band known as Fats Waller and his Rhythm. This six-piece group usually included Herman Autrey (sometimes replaced by Bill Coleman or John "Bugs" Hamilton), Gene Sedric or Rudy Powell, and Al Casey.

In the mid-1930s, Waller worked on the West Coast with Les Hite's band at Frank Sebastian's New Cotton Club. He also appeared in two films while in Hollywood in 1935, Hooray for Love! and King of Burlesque. For tours and recordings, Waller often led his own big band. This began as an expanded version of the band led by his bass player (Charlie Turner's Arcadians), and in 1935, with most members of the Rhythm (as well as Don Redman, among others), it made its first recording. The group's version of I Got Rhythm includes a cutting contest of alternating piano solos by Waller and Hank Duncan.

In 1938, Waller undertook a European tour, recording in London with his Continental Rhythm, as well as making solo pipe-organ recordings for HMV. His second European tour in 1939 was terminated by the outbreak of war, but while in Britain, he recorded his London Suite, an extended series of six related pieces for solo piano: Piccadilly, Chelsea, Soho, Bond Street, Limehouse, and White Chapel. It is Waller's longest composition and represents something of his aspirations to be a serious composer rather than just the author of a string of hit songs.

The last few years of Waller's life involved frequent recordings and extensive tours of the USA. In early 1943, he returned to Hollywood to make the film Stormy Weather with Lena Horne and Bill Robinson, in which he led an all-star band including Benny Carter and Zutty Singleton. He undertook an exceptionally heavy touring load that year, as well as collaborated with the lyricist George Marion, Jr. on the score for the stage show Early to Bed (which opened in Boston on May 24,1943). The touring, constant abuse of his system through overeating and overdrinking, and the nervous strain of many years of legal trouble over alimony payments all took their toll and his health began to break down. He was taken ill during a return visit to the West Coast as a solo pianist at the Zanzibar Room in Hollywood and died of pneumonia while traveling back to New York by train with his manager Ed Kirkeby.

From: www.redhot 

On the recordings  by "Fats Waller and his rhythm":

By Mike Donovan

Late in 1932 Fats Waller hired Phil Ponce as manager. Ponce promptly negotiated a contract with WLW, a powerful Cincinnati radio station which was heard throughout the Midwest. His show, "Fats Waller's Rhythm Club", was an instant success. When the WLW contract concluded in early 1934, Waller returned to New York where he broadcast the "Rhythm Club" show over the CBS network to a still larger audience.

For most of a decade Victor's leading jazz artist had been Jelly Roll Morton and the various incarnations of his Red Hot Peppers, but Victor eventually declined to renew Morton's contract as lagging sales reflected changes in the public taste. Victor needed a bankable star to replace Morton as the label's featured jazz artist. Waller's success on CBS convinced Victor to sign him to his first recording contract; Waller decided upon a six-piece band format. Maintaining the association with the "Rhythm Club" name, Waller and Ponce christened the band "Fats Waller and His Rhythm". Between 1934 and 1942 the group recorded about 400 sides, well over half of Waller's lifetime recorded output. Material ranged from downright lamentable to outstanding and Waller's treatment of it ranged from brusque to brilliant. 

The "Rhythm" was primarily a studio band, and recording dates had to be worked into the musicians' different schedules. Waller's genius carried the band, enabling them to record as many as ten sides in a single day, often consisting mainly of new material. Rarely did band members know in advance which tunes they would be recording! It is a testament to the collective musical talent of the group that they managed so well without rehearsal. This chaotic approach succeeded in part because of consistency in core personnel which included Waller, Autrey, Sedric and Casey. The chaos no doubt contributed to the spontaneity which characterizes many of the Rhythm's recordings.

Many critics consider that the band's best work was issued in 1935 and 1936, and many of these releases were million- sellers. In February, 1938 Victor extended Waller's contract through May, 1944. It should be noted that Waller's recording contract was not exclusive and that during this period he also recorded for Commodore. Victor issued some of the Rhythm sides on their Bluebird label. The last session with Fats Waller and his Rhythm took place on July 13, 1942 in Victor's New York studios.

So, as Fats himself might say of these recordings, "My, My, My! Now here 'tis; Latch On!

And, to quote the big man, himself:

Well, one never knows, does one??

I know's a great list............enjoy!! (and remember, this list will come in 3 parts....)

And here's the tunage:

Hallelujah, things look rosey now (vocals) 1935
Birmingham blues 10-21-1922
Hallelujah, things look rosey now (instr) 1935
How can you face me 9-28-1934
At twilight 1939
Cheatin' on me 1939
Believe it, beloved 11-7-1934 (F.W. and his Rhythm)
Black Maria 1939
Dream man (make me dream some more) 11-7-1934 (F.W. and his Rhythm)
I'm growing fonder of you 11-7-1934 (F.W. and his Rhythm)
Havin' a ball 12-24-1936 (F.W. and his Rhythm)
I'm cert'ny gonna see bout that 1923 (w/ Sara Martin and Clarence Williams)
Moppin' and boppin' 1943
African ripples 3-11-1935
Ain't misbehavin'/Two sleepy people (I think this is from broadcast or V-Disc...I don't have the source)
Anita 1939
Fat and greasy 12-4-1935 (F.W. his Rhythm and his Orch.)
Clothes line ballet 3-11-1935
Bless you 1939
(I'm gonna see you) when your troubles are just like mine 1924 (w/ Hazel Meyers)
Hallelujah 3 (from b'cast)
I'm a hundred percent for you (vocals) 11-7-1934 (F. W. and his Rhythm)
Baby brown (vocals) 1-5-1935 (F. W. and his Rhythm)
Did anyone ever tell you 2-22-1937 (F. W. and his Rhythm)
Eep, Ipe, wanna piece of pie 1939 (I believe from b'cast)
Baby Brown (Instr.) 1-5-1935 (F. W. and his Rhythm)
Bond street 1 1939
Bouncin' on  a V-Disc (1942?)
The meanest thing you ever did is kiss me 2-22-1937 (F. W. and his Rhythm)
I'll never smile again 1939
Ain't got nobody to grind my coffee 1926 (w/ Caroline Johnson)
Because of once upon a time 1-5-1935 (F. W. and his Rhythm)
Cryin' mood 3-18-1937 (F. W. and his Rhythm)
I'm going to see my ma 1927 (w/ Alberta Hunter) F.W. on pipe organ
Abercrombie had a zombie 1942
Ain't misbehavin' 3-11-1935
T'ain't nobodies business if I do 1940?
All my life 4-8-1936 (F. W. and his Rhythm)
All that meat and no potatoes 11-29-1936 (F. W. and his Rhythm)
Alligator crawl 11-16-1934
Baby Oh baby where can you be 1929
Baby Oh baby where can you be 2 1929 (pipe organ)
Beale Street blues (w/ Alberta Hunter) F.W. on pipe organ
Blue black bottom 2-16-1927
Boo Hoo 4-9-1937  (F. W. and his Rhythm)
Boogie woogie
Breakin' the ice 11-7-1934 (F. W. and his Rhythm)
But not for me (Lee Wiley, Fats Waller, Max Kaminsky Orch.)
By the light of the silvery moon 7-13-1942 (F. W. and his Rhythm)
Bye bye baby 8-1-1936 (F. W. and his Rhythm)
California here I come 3-11-1935
Carolina shout 5-13-1941
Chloe (Song of the Swamp) (pipe organ)
Dallas blues ( w/ Ted Lewis & His Band)
Darktown strutters ball 11-3-1939 (F. W. and his Rhythm)
Dem bones dem dry bones
Fair and square 1938
Flat foot floogie 8-21-1938 (F. W. and his Continental Rhythm)
Georgia on my mind 5-13-1941
Got no time 1938
Hallelujah 4 1938 (b'cast)
Handful of keys (ver 1) 3-11-1935
Handful of keys (ver 2) 3-1-1929
Hey, stop kissing my sister (b'cast?)
Hold my hand  1 4-12-1938 (F.W. and his Orch.)
Hold my hand 2 1938 (b'cast)
Honey hush 1939
Honeysuckle Rose1937 (w/ Bunny Berigan)
Honeysuckle Rose 1 1941
Honeysuckle Rose 2 1935
Honeysuckle Rose 3 1934
I'd love it 1929 (w/ McKinney's Cotton Pickers)
I'm crazy 'bout my baby (w/ Ted Lewis and his band)
I'm gonna sit right down and write myself a letter 5-8-1935 (F. W. and his Rhythm)
Really fine 3-16-1942 (F.W. his Rhythm and his Orch.)
Monday morning 1938 (b'cast)
Moses 1938 (pipe organ)
Mulberry bush 1938 (b'cast)
The curse of an aching heart 8-1-1936 (F. W. and his Rhythm)
The Digah stomp (pipe organ solo) 12-1-1927 (Thomas Waller w/ Morris' Hot Babies)
The moon is low 1938

Booya! stay tuned for more! soon! really!! :) 

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