The incomparable pianist Art Tatum died more than fifty years ago, yet his amazing playing and recordings left an indelible mark on jazz and continue to astonish, inspire, and set a seemingly unattainable pinnacle of excellence for today's pianists in all genres of music. For many, their first hearing of Tatum was a transforming moment.
This ten CD Tatum box contains over twelve hours of his music, almost all of it recorded live. On most of these occasions he was free to play what he wanted to for as long as he wished, to talk to his friends, and even sing along when the spirit moved him. His competitive spirit burst forth when he played with others. As always, the articulation and the conceptions were impeccable.
The vast majority of the tracks on CD's one through nine have been previously issued only on the Storyville label. Twenty-one of the twenty-three tracks on CD ten included here have never been issued before.
Because Art Tatum was legally blind, most written scores of his performances were first laboriously transcribed from disc recordings, and later from CDs. There is an almost cottage industry of pianists attempting to play some of these, or their own transcriptions. It is extraordinary that so many pianists have tried to play the music of Art Tatum, even though it was not composed by him. Of course, although Art was not a composer in the traditional sense, he was always re-composing the American popular song by creating new harmonies, textures, rhythms, and enhancements. The results were models of structure even when totally and newly improvised.
This box presents the Piano genius as you've never heard him before.