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on June 27, 2001
If you're looking for great music at a great price, you can stop looking, because you've found what you're looking for. Thomas "Fats" Waller and Louis "Satch" Armstrong are two of the world's most beloved music legends, each on his own merits and style. This CD is a wonderful blend between the two.
"Satch Plays Fats" was originally released in 1955 as a 9-track album dedicated to Fats Waller, who had died suddenly 12 years earlier. Armstrong had had the priviledge of working with the Jazz great, briefly, many years before.
In addition to the original 9 tracks, the CD contains added alternate versions of songs that never made it onto the 1955 release, as well as 7 recordings from earlier years. With 20 tracks in all, this is certainly a bargain buy and THE album to own.
The CD's digitally remastered sound cuts out all graininess fans have had to deal with in past years. The songs come through with every ounce of hearty vitality that they were intended to have. I was expecting less quality and was pleasantly surprised!
The last thing worthy of mention are the liner notes. Too often these days compilation cds and re-releases are almost completely devoid of informarion. The notes contained in this CD are AWESOME. There is info on both Satch and Fats and the histories of their respective careers, as well as album info for the original 1955 release. Simply great!
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VINE VOICEon July 12, 2000
Since I discovered beautiful,loving Armstrong's tribute to W.C.Handy,I was looking for this album but all the Books & net sources were warning against strange version of this album (on CD),with alternate takes instead of master ones.Now finally "Columbia" presented this wonderful album as it should be,with master takes + few alternative takes AND as a gift that even surpasses this album,a 7 Waller songs recorded by Louis Armstrong in years 1929-1932.Basically same group as the one on W.C.Handy tribute (even the same producer),even vocalist Velma Middleton is here,althought with all the wonderful singers in the world did Armstrong push her,I would never stop wondering.There are many similarities between Waller and Armstrong (both black musicians,virtuosos on their instruments,both capable of clowning,entertaining and deep tragedy in lyrics and music) but as Waller ended up dying from Pneumonia somewhere from one concert date to another,not even reaching 40,Armstrong lived longer and universally acclaimed & loved.(P.S. The old,rugged and muddy recordings of Fats Waller songs,recorded by Armstrong and his gang in years between 1929-1932 are for me so stunningly beautiful that to my ears they surpass everything recoded 1955.)
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Many years ago, a very good friend of mine had a cassette player in his car and he would drive around town playing this album on cassette tape over and over again. I eventually heard it when I was riding in his car one day and I begged him for a copy. He gave me a cassette tape of the original album, with just the original nine tracks that the original LP had--and, of course, I played the tape until it was worn through! I feared that I would never get hear this beautiful music again. Imagine my joy when I discovered this CD for sale at Amazon! I couldn't get it here fast enough.

This CD version of the original record album exceeded my expectations by far. There are 11 (yes, ELEVEN) bonus tracks on the CD, of which four were never before released! You get edited alternate versions with people coaching and commenting to Louis after the take. Other tracks date as far back as 1929 so you truly get a perspective of how Louis admired Fats Waller all through his life. (The two worked together only briefly once or twice at the most.) Moreover, the quality of the sound is excellent even on my portable music player. Louis Armstrong both sings and plays the music of "Fats" Waller so darn well you'll never tire of playing this one. Louis, his trumpet and the music of "Fats" Waller? Ha! Play it LOUD AND OFTEN because this album's a winner!

For example, the CD starts off beautifully with the classic "Honeysuckle Rose." We also hear "Ain't Misbehavin'" and "I'm Crazy 'Bout My Baby." After spending the entire afternoon listening several times to all the tracks over and over again, it's still tough, if not impossible, to isolate any "favorite" song of mine on this CD. Two of the finalists, however, would have to be "Keepin' Out Of Mischief Now" and "All That Meat And No Potatoes."

Armstrong gets a strong boost from the vocals of Velma Middleton, whose talent is almost entirely uncredited and undervalued in this recording. Her voice complements Louis' beautifully and their half sung/half spoken dialogue in "All That Meat And No Potatoes" is catchy, to say the least. The two singers have a natural and relaxed rapport that makes you feel so comfortable listening to their vocalizing.

The CD has a sticker on the front of the jewel case that you get the liner notes by George Avakian and the story of "Fats" Waller (born Thomas Wright Waller). For some inexplicable reason, however, the liner notes are printed twice! There isn't much to read about Armstrong and Velma Middleton is only pointed out in a picture of her singing one of the songs along with Armstrong. The liner notes could be better--a real mistake, in my opinion.

Overall, this CD is still must have music and a real value with the extra tracks. I recommend this for fans of classic jazz, fine trumpet playing and the early work of Louis Armstrong with his band the All-Stars. Barney Bigard plays the clarinet really, really well as it was his specialty and the liner notes do include great photos. Do yourself a favor--get this CD and find out why Amazon chose this as an "essential recording!" SMILE
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on September 27, 2000
Like Eggs Benedick with Hollandaise sauce, like Bud Abbott and Lou Costello, like Roger Maris and Mickey Mantle....Louis Armstrong playing the music of Fats Waller is a sheer delight. Sure there are those who will suggest that Pops recorded his best work between 1925-1929 with the Hot Fives and Hot Sevens. Those are seminal recordings and stand apart from almost everthing else in the jazz cannon. However, Pops can be appreciated for all the great music he left behind and this is clearly no exception.
How delightful is it to hear Louis Armstrong and Velma Middleton having a ball on Honeysuckle Rose, Keepin' Out of Mischief Now, Black and Blue and Ain't Misbehavin'? My CD collection includes over 25 single disc recordings and 3 different box sets of Satchmo and I'd have to say this one is my all-time favorite. I've collected the orginal vinyl LP and the "Columbia Jazz Masters" issue on CD, but this is the one to get. Great digital remastered sound and several wonderful alternate takes make this indespensible listening.
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on January 28, 2005
Waller and Armstrong were of the same generation and were collaborators in music in the 1920s. Louis's first big leap to popular stardom beyond the tight group of Jazz musicians and performers came when he introduced "Ain't Mis Behavin'" on the Broadway stage. The audiences often forced him to do three or four encores. Folks who had seen the show before would pay full price just to get in to hear Louis sing this one song.

The recordings in the late 20s by Louis with all the vocals are simply my idea of the best music ever recorded by anyone. Rather than get them selected this way, you might want to get one of the CDs or collections that covers that period of time with everything, rather than just the songs by Waller.

Likewise, while the All Stars were not as good as his original Chicago and New York Groups, particularly these later all-stars (I prefer the albums with the great Jack Teagarden), if you get into the music you will want that all too.

At any rate, there is no one else but Louis who can do these songs justice except the Fat man himself, Mr. Waller!
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on May 7, 2003
The more I hear Armstrong the more I like him. On this 1955 release, he did nine of Fats Waller's songs with perfection and great sound quality. In 2000, Sony put out this CD with the original LP plus some alternate versions of those songs, and then stretched the thing to well over 70 minutes with seven Armstrong recordings from 1929-32 of Waller's best. Even the old recordings sound pretty darn good. If one MUST find a flaw, perhaps we really do not need THREE versions of "Blue Turning Grey Over You" and "What Did I Do To Be So Black and Blue." Yet none of the three renditions are low-quality. Fats Waller's career ran from 1925 until his too-early death in 1943. The 11 songs on this disc (in 20 tracks) reveal him to be quite worthy of that Broadway tribute of a few years back, "Ain't Misbehaving." Armstrong's female vocalist of the mid-50's, Velma Middleton, contributes on three of the tracks. At first, I did not think I'd like her, but after two listenings, I find I like her a lot. She fits the Waller style, and provides a nice contrast to Satchmo's famous and wonderful croaking. Of course, the Armstrong All Stars, including Trummy Young on trombone and Barney Bigard on clarinet, are superb here also.
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on January 31, 2000
If you love Louis Armstrong, buy it. If you love Fats Waller, buy it. If you just love jazz with a swing beat, then this collection is for you. Satchmo gives us an incomparable interpretation of Waller's music that would have made the corpulent keyboard king himself very proud indeed. It is soooo SWEET! You won't be disappointed.
Armstrong infuses these pieces with a style very true to Fats' own, including the humour and wit that Satchmo weaves into the lyrics.
The sound is smooth, and the rhythm is HOT! Recording quality is very good, and the selection is impecable -- some of Waller's greatest hits. This is a great gift item, and I plan to give it to my Dad [a lifelong big band fan and a dancing fool] for his 85th birthday next month.
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on August 1, 2002
If you want to buy only one Louis Armstrong CD, buy this one. But remember to buy this remastered version (dated 2000) and not the 1987 release of the same title which has fewer songs and the sound quality is not as good as this one.
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on September 25, 2014
A huge bargain in a double density disk that contains nearly everything Satch recorded of Fats. Some of them are sublime and none are less than engaging. If you want to focus on Fats a bit get this. I listened to it three times sequentially without getting bored.
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on May 26, 2014
This is a really interesting CD of Louis Armstrong doing Fats Waller compositions.

The first 9 tracks were originally recorded in 1955-56 and released on LP by Columbia Records in 1956 as the album Satch Plays Fats. These nine tracks are first rate material. The Fats Waller compositions are all excellent and Louis Armstrong's interpretations of them do Fats Waller full credit for the musical genius that he was. It's a great recording of a musical genius playing the compositions of another musical genius.

The next four tracks (10-13) are out takes from the original 1955-56 recordings sessions. More first rate material from Louis Armstrong.

The remaining tracks (14-20) are very interesting. They're gems from Columbia's vaults featuring Louis Armstrong and his various bands recording Fats Waller compositions between 1929 and 1932. The sound isn't as good as the 1955-56 records but it's very good for material recorded between 1929 and 1932.

Overall, an excellent album. Louis Armstrong fans won't go wrong with this one.

It's also a very good album for anyone not familiar with Fats Waller. There are a lot of box sets of Fats Waller available from various labels which may be confusing to anyone who wants to check out Fats Waller but who isn't familiar with Waller's career or his music.

If you want to check out Fats Waller but aren't familiar with his music, this CD would be an excellent introduction.
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