Fats Waller

Performance: Radio Recordings from 1931 to 1943

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Thomas “Fats” Waller was the complete entertainer during the Depression years, conveying a constant joyous presence as a singer, pianist, and organist, and as a superb songwriter -- his “Ain’t Misbehavin’," for instance, is a timeless classic. Arguably his best work was done for Victor in 1934 and 1935, but Waller was always a steady performer, and the radio transcriptions on this two-disc set -- recorded between 1931 and 1943 -- are as delightful as anything else he ever recorded, and maybe even more so, thanks to his warm song introductions and occasional spoken asides; he introduces “Ain’t Misbehavin’” here by saying "Ladies and gentlemen, this is just to let you know that I paid my alimony, and I ain't misbehavin'." Everything presented here is of a piece, full of a calm and sprightly joy, and tracks like his beautifully hushed interpretation of “Tea for Two” are nothing less than stunning. Again, Waller’s studio work for Victor is the place to start with this marvelous musician, but this set adds a kind of live intimacy to what he did in the studio. It feels like you’re right there, and it’s a wonderful party.

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