Ray Templin

Crazy About Fats

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Pianist/vocalist Ray Templin pays tribute to the great pianist/singer/composer/personality Fats Waller on this release from his SubRosa label. Using a fine septet patterned after Waller's Rhythm (with the three horns including trumpeter Brian Atkinson, trombonist Art Dragon and Roger Neumann on clarinet, soprano and tenor), Templin and his gang romp through seven Waller tunes, two other songs closely associated with him, and the title cut, which is based on the chord changes of "I Got Rhythm." Templin's colorful piano consistently takes solo honors, although the horns also fare well. The leader's vocals, like his heated piano, generally hint strongly at Fats Waller without resorting to mere imitation. Some of the ensembles border on the riotous, and there are many exciting moments particularly on such tunes as "Crazy 'Bout My Baby," the surprising uptempo treatment given "Black and Blue," a lengthy "Honeysuckle Rose" and the spirited "Crazy 'Bout Fats." This CD is easily recommended to Dixieland, swing and Fats Waller fans.