Fats Waller

1937, Vol. 2

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This might be a good choice for those who are just finding out about Fats Waller and want to hear him at the top of his form. Not every segment of the Waller chronology would necessarily serve as such an excellent introduction to the man's work. The second half of 1937 was an artistically fruitful time for Fats. On June 11, he rendered five very sensitive, ruminative piano solos, gracious and subtle, reflective and peaceful. This meditative persona is an aspect of Thomas Waller that is too often overlooked. On September 7, 1937, the Rhythm band spun out a series of delightfully rambunctious tunes. "Beat It Out" resounds with coordinated handclapping, "You've Got Me Under Your Thumb" has Waller timing his remarks perfectly over the music, and "I'd Rather Call You Baby" works up to a lather, all on account of a clever set of lyrics that were good enough for Fats to really do something with. "You're My Dish," containing a lot of involved descriptions of fancy foods, was fated to work perfectly as a vehicle for this man's merriment. The session of October 7, 1937, is important on a number of levels. On that day, Fats recorded two songs about heartbreak that should never be left out of introductory Waller studies: "How Can I?" and "What Will I Do in the Morning?" were both co-composed by Fats. Maybe that's why he seemed so comfortable, sounding completely natural as he took his singing down to the level of spoken conversation, as if arguing with the woman who had caused him such grief. Fats also had a hand in writing "How Ya, Baby?," which takes the form of a happier exchange with a prospective female party companion. But the real party tune from this session is the original version of "The Joint Is Jumpin'," made a bit more authentic by the inclusion of several invited guests who created a raucous atmosphere as the song worked itself up to a tussle topped by a police whistle. Waller soon hit the road and the next studio recordings he managed to make were waxed in Hollywood on December 16, 1937. Fats found himself working with an entirely different group from his usual Rhythm band; the drummer was Lester Young's little brother, Lee, and a fellow by the name of Ceele Burke sat in on steel guitar. This livened up the date, but the steel guitar presence didn't assert itself until the second half of the session, which appears on the next volume in the Waller chronology, Classics 875: 1937-1938. "Every Day's a Holiday" proves that sometimes Fats could take any trivial bit of pop and transform it into joyousness well beyond the potential of the song as originally written. And that's why some folks can't ever get enough of Fats Waller.

Track Listing

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
1 3:10
2 3:13
3 2:30
4 3:20
5 3:08
6 2:49
7 2:10
8 3:28
9 2:58
10 3:17
11 2:36
12 2:49
13 2:55
14 3:04
15 2:45
16 3:11
17 3:04
18 2:27
19 2:51
20 3:17
21 3:25
22 3:12
blue highlight denotes track pick