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Fats Waller: If You Gotta Ask, You Ain’t Got It

Without available recordings on hand to excite and edify a current generation of listeners, even the established giants of jazz can lose their footing in the public’s estimation. To know them and love them, we must hear them.

As even producer Orrin Keepnews admits, this triple-disc sampler of Waller’s multifaceted art has its share of holes. Where’s “A Handful of Keys,” “If You’re a Viper” or “You’re Not the Only Oyster in the Stew”? Waller enthusiasts can find their own omissions from the hundreds of sides that he cut from 1923 through 1943, the year of his premature death.

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