This is probably the best single-CD compilation of Fats Waller's recordings I have come across. If you're new to Fats Waller, I would recommend this CD as an excellent introduction to this popular pianist and entertainer. The audio CD contains solo piano tracks, small jazz combo sessions, and even one of Fats's marvelous organ solos ("Beale Street Blues," with a vocal by Alberta Hunter). Studio recordings as well as radio airchecks are used. The accompanying short DVD contains about 15 minutes of Fats Waller video footage from old film "soundies" and an early 1980s cartoon drawn to the accompaniment of Fats Waller's recording of "Your Feet's Too Big."
The audio remastering by Doug Pomeroy is very good, but if you hate lots of "hiss," you may want to turn your treble control down while listening. The quality of the video footage is decent, though some of the clips appear to come from VHS tape copies and have the occasional lines that show up on screen when the tracking isn't quite right. While any chance to see video of Fats Waller is a treat (there aren't many surviving films of him), I was somewhat disappointed in the content of the films. As a pianist myself, I was hoping to catch a glimpse of his incredible technique, but most of the camera shots show only the upper half of his body as he makes goofy faces while singing; very rarely are his hands visible and then mostly for mundane vamps between choruses (and even those seem to be somewhat out of sync -- for some films it's obvious that the sound was dubbed in afterwards).
I bought this set primarily for the DVD since I already had most of the recordings on the audio CD. The package doesn't emphasize the DVD and offers little info about its contents. Just so you know, the DVD *is* short and does not contain any extras. I'm also a bit disappointed that on the audio disc, only one organ track was included. I've heard several times that Fats preferred the organ (and he made dozens of organ recordings), so it seems odd that only one organ track is included, especially since they are difficult to find on CD.
Mike Lipskin has written a few notes in the accompanying booklet, and happily, coplete discographical information is given for each selection on the audio CD.
Overall, this is a well-done set with a nice selection of Waller recordings-great for newcomers or longtime Fats Waller fans alike. Recommended.