Fats Waller: The Minor Drag


The Minor Drag


Fats Waller (piano)


The Joint is Jumpin’ (RCA- Bluebird 6288)

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Fats Waller (piano), Charlie Gaines (trumpet), Charlie Irvis (trombone), Arville Harris (clarinet, alto sax), Eddie Condon (banjo).

Composed by Thomas ‘Fats’ Waller


Recorded: New York, March 1, 1929


Rating: 95/100 (learn more)

This original, from Waller’s first self-led session, foreshadows the wonderfully spontaneous recordings he made with his band during the mid and late 1930s. In his autobiography, We Called it Music, Eddie Condon recalled the haphazard way this session was thrown together: Waller, a great musician but considered undependable by the Victor A&R folks, was assigned Condon as a deputy to ensure that the pianist would make the date. As a result, Condon was hired by Waller to participate. “The Minor Drag,” taken at a brisk and steady 264 beats per minute, features Harris, Gaines and Irvis soloing over a simple 16-measure strain in C minor while Waller adds a new Eb major strain for his second chorus. The ensemble riffs and fills which close the performance are free of clutter and full of excitement. This performance demonstrates Waller’s uncanny ability to make near-perfect and timeless music with an ad hoc ensemble at the spur of the moment.

Reviewer: David Sager


  • 1 larry garf // Jan 03, 2009 at 02:38 AM
    Thank you, Mr. Sager. I've always adored Minor Drag ... one of my all-time favorite Fats discs, in fact, one of my favorite vintage jazz records in general. It was nice to stumble on your review. Got me to play it again tonight (3 or 4 times, to be honest) and appreciate it anew. -Larry Garf