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Breakin the Ice - Early Years 1

5.0 out of 5 stars 11 customer reviews

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Audio CD, June 13, 1995
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Editorial Reviews

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The Great Depression had been grinding away for at least five years; the days of the big swing bands had yet to reveal themselves. While "Fats" Waller had been recording for Victor 12 years, very little of his piano (and pipe organ) had reached a wide audience. Well, these recordings on The Early Years, Part 1 did precisely that by initiating a new, small ensemble that hit audiences way beyond what the industry characterized as the "race" record market. This little band and these records were the first flowering of what became a bonanza for the starved record market and music fans. Many of the selections were chosen by Eli Oberstein, the pop Victor "A&R" man. Fats intensely disliked some of them, and simply burlesqued the selections in the recording to Victor's horror--and still they turned out to be some of his paramount performances and huge sellers. "Breakin' the Ice" has some of the richest two-fisted stride piano to be found, and "Serenade for a Wealthy Widow" presented Fats a melody that could only be arranged in the same manner as a concerto. No problem. He simply recorded a most harmonically intricate solo chorus, as sophisticated as Gershwin and hot as a college bonfire. A perusal of the rest is so arresting that even the grandest superlatives are inadequate in describing the music. These records, then, were the dawn of an entirely new era that a "pop" music aficionado or jazz fan must not pass up. --Daniel Bartlett Jr.

Track Listings

Disc: 1

  1. A Porter's Love Song
  2. I Wiish I Were Twins
  3. Armful O' Sweetness
  4. Do Me A Favor
  5. Georgia May
  6. Then I'll Be Tired Of You
  7. Don't Let It Bother You
  8. Have A Little Dream On Me
  9. Serenade For A Wealthy Widow
  10. How Can You Face Me?
  11. Sweetie Pie
  12. Mandy
  13. Let's Pretend There's A Moon
  14. You're Not The Only Oyster In The Stew
  15. Honeysuckle Rose
  16. Believe It, Beloved
  17. Dream Man
  18. I'm Growing Fonder Of You
  19. If It Isn't Love
  20. Breakin' The Ice
  21. I'm A Hundred Percent For You
  22. I'm A Hundred Percent For You (Instrumental)

Disc: 2

  1. Baby Brown
  2. Baby Brown (Instrumental)
  3. Night Wind
  4. Because Of Once Upon A Time
  5. I Believe In Miracles
  6. You Fit Into The Picture
  7. Louisiana Fairy Tale
  8. I Ain't Got Nobody
  9. I Ain't Got Nobody (Instumental)
  10. Whose Honey Are You?
  11. Whose Honey Are You? (Instrumental)
  12. Rosetta
  13. Rosetta (Instrumental)
  14. Pardon My Love
  15. What's The Reason
  16. What's The Reason (Instumental)
  17. Cinders
  18. Dust Off That old Pianna
  19. Lulu's Back In Town
  20. Sweet And Slow
  21. You've Been Taking Lessons In Love
  22. You're The Cutest One


Product Details

  • Audio CD (June 13, 1995)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: RCA
  • ASIN: B000002WTX
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #333,607 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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By A Customer on November 7, 1998
Format: Audio CD
This is the place to start for Fats. This is fantastic stuff. Fats was the most important stride piano player ever. However, what really made him the great success of the late 30's was his great playful singing. If you want to have fun and swing with the playful giant then get this one now. If think 30's stuff is dry or dull, Fats will change your mind. And if you love this one, there are five more sets in this series of Fats and His Rhythm (3 early years, 2 middle years, and the last years - 15 discs in all and every one as great as the other. You'll fall in love with guy. Yeeeeeaaaaaaahhhhhh!
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Format: Audio CD
If I were stuck on a desert island and I could only take 10 CD's with me this would be at the top of the top ten list. Thomas "Fats" Waller was perhaphs the finest stride pianist(the only other that came close was his teacher James P. Johnson). Waller sang and played the piano joyfully and equally skillful. These are his earlist and best sessions as a leader under the name of "Fats Waller & His Rhythm Makers." This Two CD Set is the difinitive domestic Fats Wller CD set. All of these sides are classics, some that really stand out are "Mandy" "Honeysuckle Rose" "Night Wind" yet every single track here is a timeless masterpiece of Fats' joyful piano playing and singing. Highly recommended to anyone who likes music, and it is even recommedned to those who dont like music.
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Format: Audio CD
Dan Morgenstern's reflections on these 40+ Waller sides (see below) are just wonderful. I wish Morgenstern had annotated all of the music recorded by Fats Waller and His Rhythm (and all of Waller, period). Read on...

Fats Waller: Breakin' the Ice: The Early Years, Part 1
By Dan Morgenstern

Thomas “Fats” Waller had been making records for almost a dozen years when, just five days short of his thirtieth birthday, he entered the Victor Studios in Manhattan with five fellow musicians in tow. While he no doubt was pleased that his manager, Phil Ponce, had worked out a contract for him to record in this format on a regular basis, neither Fats himself, Ponce, nor recording supervisor (the title “A&R man” had not yet been invented) Eli Oberstein could have known that they were about to embark on one of the most productive and longest-running enterprises in the annals of recorded popular music. Henceforth known as “Fats Waller and his Rhythm,” the sextet, with a changeable (and sometimes augmented) cast, made hundreds of records during the next eight years, many of them substantial hits, catapulting its hefty leader to international fame. But that gets us ahead of the story—the material included in this set did well enough in the marketplace to warrant further activity, but did not yet include any major best sellers.

Not that Fats Waller was an unknown entity when the Rhythm series began. He was certainly no stranger to Victor Records, having already produced a number of piano and pipe-organ solos for the label, as well as sev¬eral ad hoc band dates.
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There is a Midas touch to the work of Fats Waller during the first two years of his Rhythm recordings for RCA that seems to me to be almost unmatched in the history of Jazz. Like Lester Young during the period of the late 30's and very early 40's, and perhaps Charlie Parker in the middle and late 40's, it seems that his every musical utterance was a masterpiece. What can one say about a collection such as this? As large as it is (44 titles), it is so densely packed with great music, that one is left speechless. To give these performances a 5 star rating is like calling an out of the park home run in Yankee Stadium (rest it's soul), a nice hit.

Perhaps most uniquely, Fats utilizes his prodigious musicality completely in the service of fun. Indeed, the great lesson of these performances is that it is possible to have so much fun, until it is profound. Jazz does not get any finer.

Albert Einstein was recorded as saying on the occasion of the death of Mahatma Gandhi, "Future generations will scarcely believe that such a man, in flesh and blood, actually walked this earth." I believe the same thing could be said with complete accuracy about Fats Waller.
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
A remarkable collection which is not only thorough, it actually captures the very soul of Fats Waller. The joy on these astoundingly clean recordings is infectious. Even when a different cut of the same song is offered, this disc never grows tiresome.
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This was my intro to Fats, and in the week since receiving it as a gift I must've listened to it fifty times! Each song is more wonderful than the last, and you just can't help but dance and grin to every last delicious morsel. Particular gems in this veritable treasure trove include: "Pardon My Love", "I Wish I Were Twins", "Do Me a Favor", and "Then I'll Be Tired of You", to name just a few. I would highly reccomend this album to anyone and everyone...it has spurred me on to add many more of his delicious albums to my collection.
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