Fletcher Henderson: Fidgety Feet
Fletcher Henderson & His Orchestra
The Chronological Fletcher Henderson 1927 (Classics 580)
Fletcher Henderson (piano, arranger), Joe Smith (trumpet), Tommy Ladnier (trumpet), Russell Smith (trumpet), Jimmy Harrison (trombone), Benny Morton (trombone), Buster Bailey (clarinet, alto sax), Don Redman (alto sax), Coleman Hawkins (tenor sax), Charlie Dixon (banjo, guitar), June Cole (tuba), Kaiser Marshall (drums).
Composed by Larry Shields.
Recorded: New York, March 19, 1927
Rating: 94/100 (learn more)
Fletcher Henderson's pioneering jazz band relied heavily on the talents of his sidemen, and his arrangement of “Fidgety Feet” calls for many of the vast solo resources of the band. While several other band members solo, the star of this track is trombonist Jimmy Harrison, whose aggressive breaks and virtuosic solo set the stage for the band's trademark swing feeling.
The arrangement uses Harrison as the spark plug to jump-start the first strain's driving two-feel. He has a solo break early in the chart which showcases his enormous, round sound and overpowering swing feeling. Later, other instruments get a chance at the breaks, but none convey the power of Harrison's trombone. Harrison gets his full solo about halfway through the tune. Here, he shows why he was considered -- alongside Coleman Hawkins and Louis Armstrong -- to be the most sophisticated improvisers of his day. Rhythmically, his ideas fit right into the pocket, and melodically he incorporates wide leaps, expressive rips and even some chromaticism -- a difficult feat on his awkward instrument. The range he employs is also impressive; he pops out high notes as cleanly as he executes in the lower register.
Even during the cacophonous ending, Harrison's resonant sound rumbles underneath the rest of the band and supports the final hit, ending the song with the same booming exuberance with which he started it off.
Reviewer: Alex W. Rodriguez