Fats Waller Revisited
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On Fats Waller Revisited, one great stride pianist pays tribute to another. Dick Wellstood was one of the few stride pianists to emerge in the late 1940s, a time when Bud Powell and bebop were permanently changing jazz. Instead of emulating Powell, Wellstood looked back a decade or two to the playing of Fats Waller, James P. Johnson and Willie “The Lion” Smith. While Wellstood occasionally played more modern types of jazz, enjoying Thelonious Monk and sounding quite credible in swing and mainstream settings, stride piano is where he sounded most at home.
Fats Waller has inspired and delighted listeners ever since he burst on the scene in the 1920s. Not only was he one of the most remarkable stride pianists, but he was a songwriter of the first order, jazz's first organist, an excellent singer, and a memorable comic personality. He only lived to be 39 but he managed to live several lifetimes, with an excess of liquor, food, women and music. Life was one long party for Waller, who made everyone around him happy.
During Fats Waller Revisited, Dick Wellstood proves to be perfect in his role as pianist and bandleader. His solos purposely emulate Waller (sometimes sounding very close to Fats) and yet he also displays his own witty personality.However Wellstood is not the whole show.
The nine songs on this set, all either written or associated with Waller, feature singer Jane Harvey on what is certainly her greatest recording. Harvey gained some recognition in 1945 when she was Benny Goodman's singer. Although she has spent much of her career in the cabaret world, Harvey has always had a real knack for singing swing songs. She is particularly effective on “I've Got A Feeling I'm Falling,” “S'posin'” (which co-features the bowed bass and humming of Major Holley) and “Two Sleepy People.” The supporting cast, which is fortunate to include both Ed Polcer and John Bucher on trumpet, Zoot Sims on tenor, clarinetist Kenny Davern, Holley and drummer Tommy Benford, also has guitarist Al Casey who was a longtime member of Fats Waller's Rhythm.
Fats Waller Revisited is not only a tribute to the immortal Waller but a superior showcase for Jane Harvey and an opportunity for a group of fine musicians to bring back some of Fats' best songs. (Scott Yanow)
"Harvey's is a warm and personal style which swings along nicely and never loses the meaning of the lyrics or the shape of the tune. Her taste in material is such that she can be mentioned in the same class as Lee Wiley and Mildred Bailey; and that is some class."
- Joe H. Klee, The Mississippi Rag
"Jane Harvey's covers of Fats Waller's originals showcase a very deft vocal touch. Harvey's phrasing is so precise, yet innovative, her articulation so clear and her tone so warm, that listening to this album is a joy... Fats would've been proud."
- Alan Cameron, The Advocate
* I'm Gonna Sit Right Down and Write Myself a Letter (4:17, Key: Eb)
* I've Got a Feeling I'm Falling (2:23, Key: G)
* Squeeze Me (4:01, Key: C)
* S'Posin' (3:10, Key: Bb)
* Two Sleepy People (4:31, Key: Bb)
* Ain't Misbehavin' (I'm Saving My Love For You) (3:43, Key: Ab)
* Honeysuckle Rose (4:23, Key: Bb)
* I Can't Give You Anything But Love (5:04, Key: Bb)
* It's A Sin To Tell A Lie (3:28, Key: F)