From the Record Shelves #215

Sweetie Pie

LP JSP Records 1106

Fats Waller and Mezz Mezzrow seem like a very odd couple to me, but here they are on a session together. This not-so-remarkable tune gives a good picture of the actual swing of the group, something that is often overshadowed by the showmanship and the chaos in the studio. The performance is well built up, becoming more and more intense. Among other things, Fats, or Thomas as he preferred to be called, had a perfect sense of tempo.

He starts with a swinging piano solo, where we can also hear how everything on those ”rhythm” recordings is underpinned by an energetic section of guitar, bass, and drums, in this early 1934 version handled by Al Casey, Billy Taylor and Harry Dial respectively.

After a slightly ironical, but rather controlled, vocal chorus by Waller, Mezz Mezzrow plays his New Orleans-inspired clarinet. Then Herman Autrey warms up his trumpet and starts to take charge of the ensemble, where also Floyd O’Brien on trombone is heard, sounding almost as a tenor sax, before Fats is back with encouragements and more vocalizing.

The LP came out at a time when the remastering and transfer of the originals became more in focus, and it struck me that maybe in this case the efforts made by John R.T. Davies, were more serious than the work of the engineers doing the original recording.