If You Got to Ask, You Ain't Got It!

If You Got to Ask, You Ain't Got It!

by Fats WallerFats Waller


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The great comic/compositional/instrumental/vocal genius who was Thomas “Fats” Waller has a catalogue of awesome breadth and depth, comprised of small combo, orchestra and solo piano and organ performances, all recorded in a 20-year span from 1923 to 1943 (when he succumbed to bronchial pneumonia a few months shy of his 40th birthday). —in toto, more than 400 tunes committed to disc. A gifted songwriter, whose frequent collaborator, lyricist Andy Razaf, was also one of the best of his time, Waller left behind American song monuments such as “Honeysuckle Rose” and, of course, “Ain’t Misbehavin,” and also proved himself a formidable interpreter of classic pop songs of the day, his stamp on tunes such as “(I’ll Be Glad When You’re Dead” You Rascal You,” “It’s a Sin To Tell a Lie” and “I’m Gonna Sit Right Down and Write Myself a Letter” so unmistakably Waller that it’s hard to believe he didn’t write those as well. In the mid-‘90s RCA did a great service to Waller and his legacy by issuing the heart of the artist’s oeuvre, that being the recordings he made between 1934 and 1943, in a five-volume, multi-disc (13 in all), superbly annotated collection titled Fats Waller and His Rhythm, which was also the name of one of his finest combos of that period. Those discs were allowed, unbelievably, to go out of print, but Bluebird/Legacy has stepped in to correct a wrong with “If You Gotta Ask, You Ain’t Got It,” a three-CD, 66-song overview of Waller’s art, arranged thematically as one volume of vocal performances (“Fats Waller Sings and Plays Fats Waller”), one of instrumentals only (“Strictly Instrumental”) and a third disc of Waller’s renderings of Great American Songbook entries (fancifully but tellingly titled “Fats Sings and Plays Around With Tin Pan Alley”). Volumes One and Three are largely showcases for the Fats Waller and His Rhythm combo and comprise the big man’s most enduring recordings, from the tender-hearted balladry of “A Hopeless Love Affair” to the wry discourse, “All That and No Potatoes,” with the coup de grace being the amazing version of “Ain’t Misbehavin’” recorded for the film Stormy Weather. The instrumental disc is a real treat, as it features three robust performances on pipe organ, including the Louisiana Sugar Babes’ graceful ode to the south, “’Sippi,” written by and featuring on piano the stride giant James P. Johnson (alas, Waller’s organ is barely audible on the track, a flaw in the original recording); and nine richly textured solo piano numbers that illustrate how Waller took Johnson’s stride style into new realms of expressiveness. Sixty-six tunes is barely scratching the surface of Waller’s rich art, but the smart selections, and the best sort of annotators-as-tour-guides in producer and Waller expert Orrin Keepnews and veteran jazz writer Dan Morgenstern, make this an essential, and most enlightening, celebration of an American original.

Product Details

Release Date: 09/26/2006
Label: Rca Victor
UPC: 0828768112526
catalogNumber: 81125

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Fats Waller   Primary Artist,Piano,Celeste,Vocals,Pipe organ,Soloist
Casey   Guitar
Bill Coleman   Trumpet
James P. Johnson   Piano
Pee Wee Russell   Clarinet
Slam Stewart   Bass
Jack Teagarden   Trombone,Vocals
Jabbo Smith   Cornet
Irving Ashby   Guitar
Adrian Rollini   Bass Saxophone
Zutty Singleton   Drums
Charlie Teagarden   Trumpet
Herman Autrey   Trumpet
Benny Carter   Trumpet
Artie Bernstein   Bass
Arnold Boling   Drums
Garvin Bushell   Clarinet,Bassoon,Alto Saxophone
Bob Carroll   Tenor Saxophone
Hank Duncan   Piano
John Haughton   Trombone
Ray Hogan   Trombone
George James   Alto Saxophone
Slick Jones   Drums
Stan King   Drums
Nappy Lamare   Guitar
Dave McRae   Alto Saxophone
Mezz Mezzrow   Clarinet,Alto Saxophone
Alton Moore   Trombone
Floyd O'Brien   Trombone
Gene Porter   Clarinet,Tenor Saxophone
Yank Porter   Drums
Jimmy Powell   Alto Saxophone
Rudy Powell   Clarinet,Alto Saxophone
George Robinson   Trombone
Gene Sedric   Clarinet,Tenor Saxophone
Lonnie Simmons   Tenor Saxophone
Fred Skerritt   Baritone Saxophone
Billy Taylor   Upright Bass
Charles Turner   Bass
George Wilson   Trombone
Sterling Bose   Trumpet
Joe Catalyne   Clarinet,Tenor Saxophone
Harry Dial   Drums
Max Farley   Clarinet,Tenor Saxophone
Courtney Williams   Trumpet
Arthur Trappier   Drums
Lawrence Fields   Alto Saxophone
Cedric Wallace   Bass
Mae Carlisle   Vocals
Emmett Matthews   Tenor Saxophone
Billy Taylor   Bass
William Alsop   Alto Saxophone
Nathaniel Williams   Trumpet
Bobby Williams   Trumpet
John "Bugs" Hamilton   Trumpet
Joe Thomas   Trumpet
Alfred Skerritt   Alto Saxophone
Harry Dial's Blusicians   Drums,Vibes
James "Hal" Smith   Guitar
Fred "Rodriguez" Robinson   Trombone
Chauncey Graham   Tenor Saxophone
Larry Hinton   Drums
Herb Flemming   Trombone

Technical Credits

Hoagy Carmichael   Composer
Chu Berry   Composer
Billy Higgins   Composer
Earl Hines   Composer
Fats Waller   Arranger,Composer
Jimmie Grier   Composer
Jimmy McHugh   Composer
Richard Rodgers   Composer
Andy Razaf   Composer
Frank Loesser   Composer
Fred E. Ahlert   Composer
Louis Armstrong   Author
Shelton Brooks   Composer
J. Fred Coots   Composer
Henry Creamer   Composer
Walter Donaldson   Composer
Dorothy Fields   Composer
Porter Grainger   Composer
Lorenz Hart   Composer
Gus Kahn   Composer
Buddy Kaye   Composer
Orrin Keepnews   Producer,Liner Notes
Dan Morgenstern   Essay
Mitchell Parish   Composer
Leonard Ware   Composer
Harry Warren   Composer
Clarence Williams   Composer
Spencer Williams   Composer
Reginald Foresythe   Composer
Seth Rothstein   Art Direction
Howard Fritzson   Art Direction
Clarence Todd   Composer
Harry Brooks   Composer
Randall Martin   Art Direction
Pinky Tomlin   Composer
Joe Young   Composer
Alex Hill   Composer
Tom Adair   Composer
Harry Akst   Composer
Benny Davis   Composer
Fred Fisher   Composer
Francis Wheeler   Composer
Leo Wood   Composer
Billy Mayhew   Composer
Harold Spina   Composer
Willie Spottswood   Composer
Sam Theard   Composer
Ada Benson   Composer
Jerry Brandow   Composer
William Henri Woode   Composer
Robert Graham   Composer
W. Benton Overstreet   Composer
Bert Clarke   Composer
Phil Ponce   Composer

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