George Avakian produced the original LP issue in 1955, shortly after making "Armstrong Plays W.C Handy" with same top ensemble cast, including: Trummy Young-Trombone; Billy Kyle-Piano; Barney Bigard-Clarinet; and Velma Middleton chipping in with the female vocals. Avakian has now re-released both sessions--and, at the outset, I'll say that you're going to want *both* for your collection.
'Satch Plays Fats' is first-class small group swing--and this re-issue package adds top value for your dollar: additional cuts and superb quality of reproduction.
This CD has the 9 original traks, plus bonuses: 4 alternate takes and 7 Fats Waller traks recorded by Satch in the late 20's, early 30's including 2 fresh cuts: "Sweet Savannah Sue" and "That Rhythm Man".
Satch hadn't lost any of his touch in the 50's (not that I can detect anyway)--and his vocals have the right blend of `mischievous` overtones suitable for the subject matter (Fats was the 'harmful little armful', after all). His solos are lyrical and crisp. The support cast, esp. Trummy Young, are top-notch as well. I detect that Satch carried more of the extended solo work himself than in the W.C Handy compilation (someone will disagree with me, I'm sure..!).. and in the 'retakes', we don't hear as much kidding, clowning, and banter either. So, for whatever reason, this disk has a different 'flavour'. No matter-it's Satch at his foot-tapping best!
Avakian, by the way, is one of the pioneers in finding ways to hunt up original masters (or comparable) from which to produce these re-issues of the 'classic' jazz sessions. If you have older vinyl you haven't replaced yet with CD's, despair not! The re-issue is alive and well, as 'Satch Plays Fats' so heartily demonstrates!
I'm a canuck, but I got a great deal on-line thru Barnes/Noble N.J. Those wanting to buy in Canadian dollars could try Chapters.ca--the disk is currently priced under $14 (that $7 in real USA dollars!?)-or even lower for members.