Fatty George

Fatty's Saloon 1958

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The Preiser imprint was responsible for issuing a large batch of Fatty George recordings on compact disc during the 1990s, drawing on a catalog that began in the '50s and continued building over the course of subsequent decades. There is almost as much material on Fatty's Saloon 1958 in terms of playing time as was packaged on a release promising The Complete Fatty George a few years later, but in the former case the program sticks to the same general time period and instrumental lineup, alternating only the pianist. One of the keyboardists on the total of 14 tracks is Joe Zawinul of eventual Weather Report fame: Fatty George would have to be considered one of his true home boy music-making roots prior to his becoming an international jazz fusion star. His lack of Zawinul stylistic mannerisms in his younger days, in the thick of Vienna's postwar recovery in the '50s, is a source of both amusement and probable relief. It is also consistent with the way the bandmembers perform their task, Bob Blumenhoven drumming somewhat stiffly while bassist Heinz Grah takes the identity card approach to playing changes. Trombonist Willy Meerwald, extemporizing with a robust tone, came up with many of the arrangements, bouncing onto Duke Ellington when the "Jeep Is Jumpin'," home-running with Bennie Moten on "Moten Swing" and studying the funny side of bebop on a cover of Dizzy Gillespie's "School Days."

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