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Sunday Jazz Corner With Fats Waller

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King of the stride, Fats Waller was a colorful comedic personality and jazz legend in the 20′s, 30′s and 40′s.  Waller was an influential pianist, composer, singer and comedic entertainer, whose innovations to the Harlem stride style laid the groundwork for modern jazz piano.  His best-known compositions, Ain’t Misbehavin’ and Honeysuckle Rose were inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame posthumously, in 1984 and 1999.

Fats Waller (Thomas Wright Waller), was born in New York City in 1904.  He started playing piano when he was six and by the age of fourteen he was playing the organ at Harlem’s Lincoln Theater.  Within twelve months he had written his first rag (ragtime) song.

By the age of fifteen he became a professional pianist, overcoming opposition from his clergyman father, working in cabarets and theaters.  Waller went on to become one of the most popular performers of his era, finding critical and commercial success in his homeland and in Europe.  He was also a prolific songwriter and many songs he wrote or co-wrote are still popular, such as “Honeysuckle Rose”, “Ain’t Misbehavin” and “Squeeze Me”.

He enjoyed success touring the United Kingdom and Ireland in the 1930s.  He appeared in one of the first BBC television broadcasts.  While in Britain, Waller also recorded a number of songs for EMI.  He appeared in several feature films and short subject films, most notably Stormy Weather  which you can view a video clip of below.  It was released in 1943 just months before his death.

Multi-talented Waller performed Bach organ pieces for small groups on occasion.  Waller influenced many pre-bop jazz pianists; Count Basie and Erroll Garner have both reanimated his hit songs (notably, “Ain’t Misbehavin’”).  In addition to his playing, Waller was known for his many quips during his performances.

Between 1926 and the end of 1927, Waller recorded a series of pipe organ solo records.  These represent the first time syncopated jazz compositions were ever performed on a full-sized church organ.

His final recording session was with an interracial group in Detroit, Michigan in 1943, that included trumpeter Don Hirleman.  Waller was returning to New York City from Los Angeles, after the smash success of Stormy Weather, and after a successful engagement at the Zanzibar Room, during which he had fallen ill.  He contracted pneumonia on a cross-country train trip near Kansas City, Missouri, where he died on December 15, 1943.  Coincidentally, as the train with the body of Waller stopped in Kansas City, so stopped a train with his dear friend Louis Armstrong on board.  Coincidence or providential?

More than 4,000 people attended his funeral in Harlem at the Abyssinian Baptist Church.  Dr. Adam Clayton Powell, Jr., delivered the eulogy, and said that Fats Waller “always played to a packed house.”

I highly recommend FATS WALLER “compilation” on iTunes.
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See below 2 Videos by Fats Waller.

Ain’t Misbehavin’ – Stormy Weather (1943) – FATS WALLER

I’m gonna sit right down and write myself a letter (1935) – FATS WALLER

QUOTE: Adam Clayton Powell

“Unless man is committed to the belief that all mankind are his brothers, then he labours in vain and hypocritically in the vineyards of equality” 

- Adam Clayton Powell

Harlem’s 115th Street and Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Blvd getting a glass makeover

By HarlemGal for HarlemCondoLIfe

There is so much construction change taking place in the southwestern part of Harlem one would thing it would be impossible to keep up with. That could be the case if it weren’t for readers informing HarlemCondoLife on where to go take that next stroll around Harlem. I am learning to listen to those tips and that’s what I did today (Friday). A reader tipped HCL about a ton of retail construction happening on the southwest corner of 115th Street and Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. Blvd., also known as 7th Avenue. I checked it out. Thank you Lynn!

There are two scenarios floating around about what is happening with this retail space in Harlem that I am estimating to be more than 3000 square feet. One worker said that the space is being cleaned out and turned into a laundry mat. Interesting. Not my favorite scenario since most of the buildings in the area have laundry facilities inside the building and there are two other mats close by: one on Frederick Douglass Blvd., and 114th Street and the other on St. Nicholas and 113th Street.

Another person hanging out in front of the construction, said that the owner, who happens to own the entire complex located at 1890 Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. Blvd., is remodeling the space to get an entire new tenant. It is rumored that the owner of this retail space wants $15,000 in rent. I believe that is 5 thousand less than what is requested on Frederick Douglass Blvd. I hear some commercial space goes for around $20k with a ten-year commitment. Not cheap!

Overall, I hope something unique and interesting moves into this space, such as a diner or another mom and pop drug store. What do you want? Diganos! Who knows…maybe the owner is listening!

Occupants seen in Adam Clayton Powell/Central Park North corner building?

By HarlemGal for HarlemCondoLife
A reader recently informed us that folks have been seen moving into the northeast corner building on Adam Clayton Powell and Central Park North. I went by there today and there are signs of occupancy of life in the building. There are blinds hanging inside a couple of apartments.
We are guessing that this building is not offering market rate apartments since there has been no outdoor for sale sign and another reader commenting that they heard it was an HPD building! Whatever the case may be,
we noted awhile back how this location is primo! Most of the apartments have park views! Nice!