Fats Waller

The Joint Is Jumpin' [RCA Bluebird]

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Thomas "Fats" Waller (1904-1943) was first and foremost a brilliant and inspired pianist. He was also the first jazz organist, although that aspect is entirely absent from the RCA Bluebird compilation The Joint Is Jumpin'. This collection touches upon different points in Waller's 14 years as a bandleader with recordings made between 1929 and 1943. Nine of the 23 tracks are piano solos. Fats Waller & His Rhythm, one of the most popular small swing bands that ever made records together, is well represented here, and the producers also included a "Blues" and a version of "Honeysuckle Rose" that come from a "Jam Session at Victor" that took place in 1937 with an all-star group including trumpeter Bunny Berigan and trombonist Tommy Dorsey. Fats Waller was a gifted composer, a born comedian, and the leader of a prolific recording ensemble. Although this collection achieves a decent blend of solo and ensemble works, the fact that Fats Waller is never heard playing the organ is a shortcoming.

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