Alligator Crawl

Fats Waller

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Alligator Crawl Review

by arwulf arwulf

In 2004, Saga Jazz poured two dozen Fats Waller recordings into a more or less chronologically arranged collection named after one of his very best compositions, The Alligator Crawl. This unusual Waller album concentrates almost exclusively upon his piano solos, beginning with "Handful of Keys" and "Numb Fumblin'," recorded on March 1, 1929, and closing with two solos punctuated by vocal outbursts recorded for the Armed Forces V-Disc label on September 23, 1943. Waller is heard with his Rhythm group on two sides dating from January 1935. These are the salty "Because of Once Upon a Time" and the moody "Night Wind," a song of heartbreak with breathtaking passages played upon the organ. He also sings on "I'm Crazy 'Bout My Baby" and "Draggin' My Heart Around." These solo piano performances date from 1931, a year during which Waller also recorded with bands led by Ted Lewis and Jack Teagarden. The fact that this collection contains mostly piano solos means that the very essence of Thomas Waller's musical world is presented without a lot of distractions. It provides an excellent opportunity for understanding the man's artistry on a deeper level than is often achieved or even hinted at by collections that focus upon his comedic talents.

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