Wednesday, December 20, 2006

vinyl findings, episode 2: fats waller piano solos, 1929-1941

Jazz Academics and people who engineer the carving of mountains into statues may disagree with me here, but any Mt. Rushmore chiseled to honor the four greatest jazz pianists should bear the likenesses of Scott Joplin, Art Tatum, Monk, and this mug:
If you’re like me you can’t look at ol’ Fats without wishing that history could’ve put him and Michael Dukakis on this planet at the same time in order to have had one hell of an eyebrow fight to the death.

Anyway, if y’all don’t happen to know Fats, then you still probably know “Ain’t Misbehavin’”, “Honeysuckle Rose”, “Your Feet’s Too Big”, “All That Meat And No Potatoes”, “I Got Rhythm”, or any of the countless jazz standards he composed. Louis Armstrong was always at his best when singing Waller, whether it was the hypnotic swing of “Everybody Loves My Baby (But My Baby Loves Nobody But Me)” or the racism blues of “What Did I Do (To Be So Black and Blue)”.

By the way, you can learn more about Thomas Wright Waller by consulting your local library or just lazily clicking this link to his Wikipedia page, complete with the tale of how Fats was once kidnapped to play Al Capone’s birthday party.

I mention all this to lead into my vinyl finding of the reprinted two record set of “Fats Waller Piano Solos, 1929-1941”.

This is, as the title indicates, a collection of Fats alone at the piano. Absent is the trademark voice and witty lyrics, and one is left to appreciate the genius of the man as a musician. The keys stride in machine gun rhythm through a subtle hiss and crackle to reverberate off the walls of the Rexroom even now, and I must say that there is no better case to be made for blindness in the whole “would you prefer blindness or deafness” debate than music such as this.

Uh…where’s your thumb?

Excuse me?

Your thumb is conspicuously absent from the photo.

Yes. Well, I felt that the odd appearance of my thumb detracted from the last installment of “vinyl findings”.

So you don’t find your other digits to be in any way odd looking?

Is this better, Captain Howdy?
You do realize that I’m just a figment of your imagination, don’t you?

That’s what they said about the mischievous elf who lived in the back of my closet and randomly tailored my trousers as I slept.

That turned out to be a cat.

A cat?

Didn’t you read “The Captain Howdy Mysteries, Book Four: The Case of the Mischievous Elf Who Lived in the Back of Rex’s Closet and Randomly Tailored His Trousers as He Slept.”

Obviously not. However, cats cannot tailor one’s trousers. How do you account for that?

You were accidentally attempting to put on Mrs. Camino’s pants.

Ah. Indeed. It all makes sense now.

Anyway, where the hell was I before this digression?

You were telling the story of the time you met Michael Dukakis in the men’s room of an IHOP just off I-75 in Toledo.

I was? I did?

Trust me.

Okay. Um…Yes. Uh…Michael Dukakis was a swarthy little bastard of a man, quick with a condescending tone and raised eyebrows the size of legless gibbons, who…

I’m just screwing with you. You were actually telling the nice people about Fats Waller.

That couldn’t have been Fats Waller in the men’s room at the IHOP.

No, that was Jamie Farr.

What? I’m confused, and my thoughts are hurting my brain.

Shhhhhh. There, there. Now, you go have some eggnog and take a nap while I finish up here.

Anyway, folks, all you need to know about ol’ Fats is that he ate too much, drank too much, played the ever-loving hell out of the piano and then died on a train just outside of Kansas City at the age of thirty-nine.

We should all be so lucky.

5 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Actually this time I find your lack of thumb much more disturbing than the thumb was before.

But as I said before, it was a very nice thumb. Right now I'm bewildered by how extremely long your fingers would appear to be.

4:44 PM  
Blogger newscoma said...

Rex, you ain't right dude.
I dig it, but when did Captain Howdy leave my house and head to yours?
Mysterious.

4:02 AM  
Anonymous joe lance said...

I'm finding it hard to argue with your Piano Rushmore.

I'd want a second version installed somewhere, because Bill Evans and Herbie Hancock have to be up there; but your four are nonetheless faultless.

6:44 PM  
Blogger theogeo said...

Rex. You are hilarious.

That is all.

3:06 AM  
Blogger Rex L. Camino said...

They're really not that long in real life, Lynnster...unless my constant bass playing has somehow gradually elongated them without my noticing it.

There is a Captain Howdy with or within all of us, 'coma.

Those are certainly two other worthy likenesses, Joe. It's easy to forget how great Herbie is (was?) when you see him doing infomercials.

Glad I could make the most of my sickness for you, theogeo.

7:26 AM  

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