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Past Events

Jazz for Curious Listeners
The Joint is Jumpin': Fats Waller: The Pianist
April 13, 2010

Over sixty years after his death, the consummate artistry and high-spirited zest for living make pianist/composer Fats Waller one of the most celebrated artists in jazz history. His best-known compositions, such as "Ain't Misbehavin'," "Honeysuckle Rose," "Black and Blue," and "Jitterbug Waltz," long ago entered the canon of American music, as discussed in last week’s Jazz for Curious Listeners class.

Moreover, his skills as a pianist place him in the top tier of those who played the instrument, but this fact has been obscured by his greatness as an entertainer with a widespread following in the United States and Europe.

Tonight we focus on the art of Fats Waller as a pianist: his playing (and his songs) reverberates to this day amongst jazz fans and musicians cognizant of his influence and depth.As a pianist, Waller was the outstanding exponent of the Harlem Stride style of jazz piano, drawing together the innovations of Willie "The Lion" Smith and James P. Johnson into a coherent style.

And taken alone, the fact that he was a major influence on the peerless Art Tatum speaks to the eternal place Fats Waller will maintain among the pantheon of jazz greats. Come hear his piano mastery in all of its splendor at the Visitor’s Center of the National Jazz Museum in Harlem.

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