Putney Dandridge put on an act that was conspicuously similar to Fats Waller's, with an edge that often bordered on Leo "Scat" Watson's maniacal excesses. When excited, his voice shook with glee, and he liked to holler at his musicians while they swung. The best example of Dandridge's craft is "Nagasaki," closely resembling a version he recorded with Adrian Rollini's Tap Room Gang within days of the giddy rendition heard here. Throughout his brief recording career, Dandridge played piano and celeste but often ceded the keyboard to Teddy Wilson so as to be able to concentrate all of his energies on singing his heart out. This is campy stuff. Bear in mind that Dandridge developed his chops by accompanying the world's greatest tap dancer, Bill "Bojangles" Robinson, during the early 1930s. You can feel that kind of exuberant showmanship bubbling away during every song Dandridge ever sang. It mixes marvelously with the honest jazz blown by a steady parade of outstanding musicians drawn from bands led by Waller, Rollini, Willie Bryant and Fletcher Henderson. As entertaining as Dandridge could be, his act flourished largely because of the presence of saxophonists Gene Sedric and Chu Berry, trumpeters Roy Eldridge and Henry "Red" Allen, and clarinetist Buster Bailey (who also doubles on alto sax). Look more closely at the personnel and you'll meet less famous players of considerable merit, such as Lady Day's father Clarence Holiday who sat in with his guitar during the session of October 21, 1935. The bassist on the next session was Grachan Moncur, the father of modern jazz trombonist Grachan Moncur III. With the exception of one or two strong jazz standards, most of the material is 1930s Tin Pan Alley pop. Dandridge's version of "A Little Bit Independent" compares interestingly with Fats Waller's treatment of the same song dating from the same year. Maybe if Fats hadn't been working for Victor Records he could have gotten away with singing the naughty "Sweet Violets." Putney sounds pleased as punch to be able to pull it off.
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AllMusic Review by arwulf arwulf