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The Harlem Renaissance

This 1929 recording by Fats Waller and his Buddies is the best example of jazz in the Knott family record collection. Much of the collection is dance music performed by studio musicians. This is unique; it features a black artist performing his own compositions. This is the hot jazz of Langston Hughes’ Harlem Night Club.

Each musician takes a solo before they perform brief duets and trios. Waller’s playing is classic stride, his left hand keeping time while the right outlines the melody. Of particular note in the rhythm section is Eddie Condon, a white guy on banjo.  Racially mixed small group recording sessions were rather common but public performances were rare until well into the big band era. None of this prevented white audiences from flocking to Harlem clubs to hear the latest licks.

It would be interesting to know how this record found its way into the collection. It may have been bought simply because it is marked ‘foxtrot’. Foxtrot was stamped on a wide variety of music when producers couldn’t figure out what to call it. An amusing example is Bill Haley and the Comets 45 RPM single of Rock Around the Clock which is also identified as a foxtrot.

Fats Waller (1929)

A: The Minor Drag

B: Harlem Fuss