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Jan Herman

Jan Herman

Posted February 23, 2009 | 05:35 PM (EST)

'Officer, Our Fate Is in Your Hands'


A laid-back tune for a lazy afternoon. It's by Fats Waller for a song he wrote with lyricist Andy Razaf. That's Dick Hyman playing.

The video was recorded by yours truly on Feb. 18, 2009, at the Living Room of Saint Peter's Church in Manhattan (Lexington Avenue & 54th Street). Hyman was appearing in a series called Midtown Jazz at Midday. Suggested donation? All of seven bucks. Which makes it one of the city's sweetest music bargains. He tickled the keys for more than an hour.

Before playing this particular tune he recounted an anecdote that belongs with it: Waller and Razaf were driving to Atlantic City, where they were going to work together on a song, when they were stopped by a traffic cop. After pleading for quite some time, Fats Waller simply said, "Well, officer, our fate is in your hands." Makes a good song title, Hyman remarked.

And for a change of pace ...

During one of Waller's recording sessions in the 1930s, when he made about 300 sides for Victor Records, somebody gave him the idea of doing "Bach up to me." Which "turned into this," Hyman remarked. "I imagine he had it written in about two-and-a-half minutes, and through the whole thing he utters asides like Bach is feeling mighty fuguel this morning, and Get Bach out of the doghouse there, and -- when he gets off a bass riff -- Bach must be turning over right now. So this is an impression of 'Bach Up to Me.' "

There's a lot more from that little concert, including Hyman's own "Thinking About Bix."