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WALLER, Fats

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WALLER, Fats
Fats Waller

Pianist, organist, vocalist and composer, Thomas "Fats" Waller played stride piano with a sophisticated style that influenced pianists as stylistically different as Art Tatum, Thelonious Monk, Bud Powell and Joe Zawinul. Count Basie even took lessons from him. But his colorful uptempo playing and humorous vocals made him popular with audiences oblivious to the magnitude of his musical skills. Though presenting himself as a comic figure, a young Waller studied with Leopold Godowsky and attended Juilliard. He remains best known for his compositions "Honeysuckle Rose" and "Ain't Misbehavin'," the latter made popular by both Louis Armstrong and Cab Calloway. Waller was also the first jazz organist of importance.

Born in New York on May 21, 1904, the young Waller showed enough musical prowess by age 15 to become an organist at the Lincoln Theater, in the process disappointing his minister father who had hoped he would follow in his footsteps. Waller studied piano with James P. Johnson, who also taught him how to make piano rolls.

Waller's first recordings were "Muscle Shoal Blues" and "Birminham Blues," cut in October 1922. Soon after, his prowess as a writer led to a number of other jazz and blues players recording his compositions. Waller would later collaborate with Alberta Hunter, Sidney Bechet, Jack Teagarden and Fletcher Henderson. During the '30s, Waller left his New York base for the West Coast and Europe. As a result of his immense popularity, Waller continually increased his touring and recording during the remaining years of his life, even appearing in three films, including Stormy Weather with a young Lena Horne.

His unhealthy lifestyle and the stress of legal difficulties over alimony battles resulted in him succumbing to pneumonia on a train taking him back to New York. Only 38 years old, Waller died in Kansas City, Mo., on Dec. 15, 1943.


OTHER CD'S FEATURING WALLER, Fats:
Other Available CD's
EBCS1008 FATS WALLER "US ON A BUS"


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