Fats Sadi (vib, arr), Buzz Gardner, Jimmy Deuchar (tp), Roger Guérin (tp, tuba), Nat Peck (tb), Bobby Jaspar (ts), Armand Migiani (bs), Jean Aldegon (b-cl), Henri Renaud, Maurice Vander, Roland Ronchaud, Francy Boland (p), Jimmy Gourley, René Thomas (g), Benoît Quersin, Jean-Marie Ingrand, Jymie Merritt, Maurice Salvat, Jean Warland, Roger Van Haverbecke (b), Jean-Louis Viale, Gérard Pochonet, Kenny Clarke, Stuff Combe, Freddy Rotier, Wallace Bishop (d)
Bar code: 8427328611237
The Belgian Fats Sadi (1927-2009), due to his technique and modern approach, was the quintessential European vibraphonist of the 50s. In his beginnings, his style was indebted to Lionel Hampton, but as he assimilated the irresistible and evolving influence of Milt Jackson, his music became a true reflection of himself, generous and overflowing with swing.
Upon his arrival in Paris in 1951, Sadi had a hard time finding gigs as a jazzman. There were too many musicians chasing too few jobs and at first he had to work in all kinds of orchestras. From 1953 he joined forces with Bobby Jaspar and grew musically, playing and recording alongside him as a sideman and as a leader while surrounded by the best musicians on the Parisian scene. In 1954, he put together an eight-piece combo that recorded an album of wellcrafted arrangements firmly rooted in the West Coast sound performed with a precision rarely heard in mainland jazz groups at the time.
As the years passed, Sadi continued to develop his style and conception, establishing himself as an impressive and forceful soloist who was capable of sustaining the mood of the tunes with depth and freshness in both wailers and ballads. In the late 50s and early 60s, he was working and recording in Germany and Belgium and he was chosen to integrate the European All-Stars of 1961. On the bonus track 'Hittin’ the Road,' Sadi blows along with another of his compatriots, the great guitarist René Thomas, who unleashes a memorable solo in a particularly graphic aural definition of swing.
In this retrospective we can hear Sadi playing in very different and exciting settings with a fierce flow of ideas and dedication. All in all, this set is an impressive showcase for an almost forgotten and often underrated vibes player.
"Like trumpeter Harry James, Fats Sadi began his musical career in the company of clowns. The Belgian jazz musician played the xylophone in a touring circus before World War II. After the war, he took up the vibraphone and recorded as a sideman and as a leader. He could play swing and bop, and his earliest recordings in 1946 were with fellow Belgian standout, saxophonist and flutist Bobby Jaspar.
In 1950, Sadi moved to Paris in search of work and began playing at the many jazz clubs
there in combos and recording as a sideman with Henri Renaud and Django Reinhardt.
Sadi reunited with Jaspar in May 1953 on a three-song session that is part of a recently
released album Fats Sadi: Sadi's Vibes, a Retrospective 1953-1961 (Fresh Sound). The
album features Sadi on vibes across a range of small groups.
Sadi's leadership sessions start with the Fats Sardi's Combo, recorded in May 1954. In
October of that year and in 1958, he was back with Jaspar before recording with
trumpeter Jimmy Deuchar in 1959. The album closes out in Brussels in 1961. These are
scattered tracks but ones that prominently feature Sadi's firm vibes and cool, tender
attack with West Coast jazz overtones. There's a guitar-like quality to his playing, and
this album serves as a perfect introduction to a tasty player with plenty of swing and
moxie. Fresh Sound features many other Sadi recordings. Have a look.
Fats Sadi died in 2009."
—Marc Myers (April 18, 2023)
"If you’re a fan of the vibes, your probable references were the swing era gents of Lionel Hampton or Red Norvo, bebop with Terry Gibbs and Milt Jackson, and that’s about it until modern jazz with Bobby Hutcherson. Well, here’s a new gent for you to dig, but he’s not a “new” guy, but an obscure Belgian stationed in Paris and hitting the vibes with fervermallet with a bunch of impressive locals like Henri Renaud-Maurice Vander-Pierre Michelot-Francy Boland/p, Jimmy Gourley-Rene Thomas/g, Genoir Quersin/b as well as some American ringers like Kenny Clarke/dr, Jymie Merritt/b, Walter Bishop/dr and Bobby Jaspar/ts.
This single disc contains Sadi in sessions as both leader and sideman swinging from a ’53 Jaspar led recording to Sadis’ own quartets. With Jaspar, there’s a “Nonette” with a hot horn section for “Honky Tonky”, a bopping smaller ensemble for “le JAMF” and a lovely “I Only Have Eyes For You”. Sadi’s sense of swing is palpable, with a tone somewhere between Hampton and Jackson, tearing up “Ridin’ High”, glowing on “Dear Old Lady” and snapping with “Laguna Leap”. The sound quality is excellent, and the vibes, well, vibrate!
As with all reissues from Fresh Sound, there’s a great booklet with session listings as well as some great background on this obscure mallet man. This is a real fun one!"
—George W. Harris (January 12, 2022)