Release Date: 06/26/07
The Start of Something Big
Thomas 'Fats' Waller was born in New York in 1904. His musical talents were obvious early - as was his charm - aged six, Fats talked his way into unlimited access to a neighbor's piano. His older brother Bob persuaded the family to buy their own instrument. Fats was sent to lessons, but soon dropped out - he could learn a tune simply by watching his teacher play it. It was at school that Fats first sensed the fun of playing to an audience. He found that he could easily work a crowd into a frenzy of stamping and clapping with a combination of humorous asides, knowing winks and artistry. By Fats' fourteenth birthday it was obvious that his destiny lay in music. He quit school so that he could get a job to finance piano lessons. Before long, he gravitated to a food delivery company that specialised in the discreet supply of booze. This gave him an entree into Harlem's clubs, where he was able to watch piano idols like James P Johnson. Fats inveigled himself into the Lincoln movie theatre. He sat in for both the pianist who accompanied the movies and the intermission organist. When the organist fell sick, Fats - then 15 - stepped in. Soon after, he was offered the job permanently. In 1920 Fats met James P Johnson who recognised the young man's talent. Johnson coached Fats, introduced him to the jazz fraternity and got him gigs. By the time the first two tracks here were cut, Fats had married. The producer on the session had brought the sheet music for Muscle Shoals Blues to the studio - so this might have been the first time Fats had seen it. Already the mature artist is on display. Fats was asked to improvise a B-side. Birmingham Blues was the result. Not a bad morning's work. Thus started a career in entertainment, which almost never faltered. Fats himself was in a continuous state of forward motion, his energy undimmed until shortly before the end. But that's the future. In the meantime we have a heap of supremely entertaining music to enjoy.
|Label: Jsp Records|
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