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High Fats Content

by Rich Conaty
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There are seven birthday salutes on tonight's "Big Broadcast" (six and one "make good" for Sidney Bechet), but Fats Waller is responsible for twenty five out of sixty seven selections. He's heard on only nine, which speaks to his strength as a songwriter rather than the host's incompetence. Don't worry, you will hear "Ain't Misbehavin'," but by Louis Armstrong, who introduced it on Broadway in "Hot Chocolates," along with fine, lesser-known Waller songs, like "Take It from Me" and "My Fate is in Your Hands."

Also tonight: the early years of Perry Como and Artie Shaw, Broadway star Libby Holman (she introduced "Body and Soul"), and trumpeters Sylvester Ahola and Henry Busse. Plus "catch up" with Sidney Bechet, who was born May 14.

"Gone" was written by Harry Link, Andy Razaf and Fats Waller. It's performed here by Irving Kaufman with Sam Lanin's band. Although recorded in 1930, it uses the acoustic system of recording: no microphone. In 1925, Columbia Records invested in a "state of the art" acoustical recording system. Their timing couldn't have been worse, since electrical recording was being introduced at the same time. To salvage things, Columbia launched the low-budget, "Harmony" (also Diva, Velvet Tone, etc.) label, which continued to record on the antiquated system maybe as late as 1931.

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