Sunday, November 29, 2015

A Handful Of Keys - And More

Fats Waller
According to info at the Red Hot Jazz website quoted here: "Fats Waller's big break occurred at a party given by George Gershwin in 1934, where he delighted the crowd with his piano playing and singing. An executive of Victor Records, who was at the party was so impressed that he arranged for Fats to record with the company. This arrangement would continue until Waller's death in 1943. Most of the records he made were released under the name of Fats Waller and his Rhythm. The group consisted of around half a dozen musicians who worked with him regularly, including Zutty Singleton. Throughout the 1930s and early 1940s Fats was a star of radio and nightclubs, and toured Europe. He unexpectedtly died on board a train near Kansas City, Missouri of pneumonia in 1943."

Fats Waller and His Rhythm (1938)
About Fats Waller and His Rhythm the following is also quoted from the Red Hot Jazz website:
"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." (Mike Donovan at Red Hot Jazz, here )

Paul Asaro at the piano
Paul Asaro is one of a chosen few contemporary piano players who has continued the stride piano style of Fats Waller convincingly, here's an example

In 2012, Rivermont Records released a CD featuring Paul Asaro that revitalizes the music originally recorded by Fats Waller and His Rhythm

CD front: Rivermont BSW-2222, CD (2012)
Paul Asaro is accompanied by members of the Chicago based jazz ensmeble The Fat Babies - Andy Schumm (co), John Otto (cl,ts), Jake Sanders (g), Beau Sample (sb) and Alex Hall (dms), and the repertoire of the disc features both popular and lesser known tunes from the Fats Waller and His Rhythm's recorded output. There are forteen tracks at the CD, a tracklist is available here 

The Fat Babies with Paul Asaro on piano (press photo)
The music at the disc is excellently performed by Paul Asaro and The Fat Babies, audio quality is top notch recreating the atmosphere of the Victor studio recordings by Fats waller and His Rhythm. I highly recommend the CD as a successful attempt to relive some of Fats Waller's recorded legacy convincingly without spoiling the original source. These cats know their stuff and carry on a heavy heritage. - Below is inserted some examples of live performance of some of the tunes presented at the CD. Here's Paul Asaro and The Fat Babies from a live performance earlier this year performing Blue Turning Grey Over You 

From a live performance last year, here is Paul Asaro and The Fat Babies playing the lesser known I'll Dance At Your Wedding 

To end this, from a live performance earlier this year Belive It, Beloved - My, My, My! Now here 'tis; Latch On!


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