Thomas Wright “Fats” Waller was a riot, a great musician, the prototype of the vested fat stride piano player and an important figure in the history of jazz. Not bad for a guy who died at age 39.
At least two of his songs — The Joint is Jumpin’ and Ain’t Misbehaving (shown here with some good commentary and a clip of Art Tatum) — are instantaneously recognizable. Other important songs associated with Waller include Your Feets Too Big (“Way up in Harlem at a table for two, there were four of us: me, your big feets and you”), Lulu’s Back in Town and Honeysuckle Rose. You’re a Viper (The Reefer Song) is very funny.