Fats Waller was one of the greatest jazz performers of his generation. By the late 1920's, his exuberant onstage persona, and his prodigious skills as a pianist had made him a star. But nothing could prepare him for the most harrowing gig in the history of jazz, when he was taken at gunpoint to play a forced gig for America's most famous gangster.
In this programme, jazz vocalist Kurt Elling will investigate a legendary encounter between Fats Waller and Al Capone, and the three day binge of jazz and depravity that followed. Kurt will hear a tale of kidnapping, gangsters and drunkenness, set amongst the brothels and speakeasies of prohibition era Chicago.
Like many jazz myths, the origins of the story are murky and the details are shrouded in mystery. Kurt will speak to a wide array of musicians and jazz critics to hear the great story's many conflicting versions, and to investigate the truth behind this dubious tale.