• Fats Waller – Don’t Let It Bother You

As a pause in these posts is imminent, and it’s nice to leave a soundfile to fill the gap, I’m returning after too long a break to one of my favourite jazz pianists, Fats Waller.  I posted on his The Minor Drag, First Recordings, Stealin’ Apples (as composer) and The Spider and the Fly last August and September.  Here’s the track which has been top of my list ever since, as much because of its relaxed ensemble playing as Waller’s stride piano and mugging to mike. Grey skies?  La-de-da-de-da-de-da-da, zing, zing, zing!   My, my.  Yes, yes.

• Fats Waller – The Minor Drag

Well, I’m beginning to get the hang of dragging video and audio files onto these pages, so here’s the first non-YouTube audio.  Fats Waller is one of my all-time favourites, partly because I’d give almost anything to be able to play stride like he does and partly because he never fails to bring a smile to my face, whether he’s singing or not.

The Minor Drag is a classic example of Waller’s pianism and ensemble playing, with great contributions from the rest of the band (terrific secondary rag rhythms!).  It was recorded on 1 March 1929 (St David’s Day to us Celts), with ‘His Buddies’: Charlie Gaines (trumpet), Charlie Irvis (trombone), Arville Harris (clarinet, alto and tenor sax) and Eddie Condon (banjo).

In the photo (thanks to ‘Shiraz Socialist’ for this – I’ve never come across it before), Waller’s on the right.  Eddie Condon is second from left.  I don’t know who the other two are – any ideas?  The Minor Drag is significant because it was the first recording in which a black jazz musician had led a group which had a white player in the line-up (rather than the other way round).  In fact, it is probable that Condon put this session together, as he made a point of organising racially integrated recordings.  I hope it puts a spring your step as the leaves start to turn and fall this near-autumnal morning!

%d bloggers like this: