Paul Posnak

Fats Waller: Sixteen Great Piano Solos

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While seasoned Fats Waller devotees may need to adjust to these solos so closely based upon transcribed Fats Waller performances, Posnak does justice to the Waller legacy by working his way through a large handful of classic Waller melodies. What makes this differ from many existing jazz piano tributes to Waller is the problem of timing, as such close adherence to the original solos automatically invites comparison, and Waller's sense of time is quite different from Posnak's. There are occasional moments where just the fraction of a pause or a lack of concision causes changes to occur in the propulsive dynamic of the piece. This in no way invalidates or downgrades the album as a whole; nobody can sound exactly like Fats Waller except for Fats Waller. In an age when comprehensive reissues of Waller's piano solos are only marginally available and rather prone to deletion, there is a need for this relatively recent re-creation of his wonderful piano works. Appearing as it does on the budget-priced, predominately classical Naxos label, what we have here is jazz being treated like chamber music. So maybe we shouldn't be expecting Posnak to interject very much of his own personality into the proceedings. Does he swing? Why, yes he does, and he is essentially collaborating with the spirit of Fats Waller. For this we should all be grateful. "Alligator Crawl" works exceptionally well. "Clothesline Ballet" is given a fresh countenance. "Handful of Keys" comes out clean. Posnak doesn't play as quickly or effortlessly as Waller, but he doesn't have to. There's plenty enough of the magic still breathing and moving in the music.

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