Tatum could play fast and could improvise with the tempo in tricky ways that would lose the average listener. A harmonic artistry emerged as his style matured.
Tatum's crowning achievement is The Tatum Solo Masterpieces, 121 selections Tatum recorded for Norman Grantz over a mere four days(!) from 1952-55. Don't know if others experienced a problem with the pressings on this 13 LP set on Pablo, but I did. So, I cannot recommend it over the CD.
From The Tatum Group Masterpieces on Pablo, my favorite is the recording he made with Ben Webster in 1956. Webster's gorgeous tone allows him to hold his own against Tatum's intimidating virtuosity. Tatum's 36 bar solo on All The Things You Are captures him at his very best.
Mrwigglewm (Threads | Answers | This Thread)
Tatum is a monster. The best. Oscar Peterson's mentor. Try the Tatum Group Masterpiece series,on Pablo. That's enough to keep you grooving for awhile. No one touches Tatum. I'm sure that will start some controversy, but hey...Tatum is the man...
Warrenh (System | Reviews | Threads | Answers | This Thread)
It's Art Tatum and he is considered by many to be the greatest jazz pianist (maybe pianist period) ever. In 1938 Tatum dropped in to hear Fats Waller (not a bad piano player himself) play at a club. By way of introduction Waller told the audience, "I just play the piano, but God is in the house tonight." Vladimir Horowitz (who also was known to tinkle the ivories from time to time) was also a big fan. And, to top it off, Tatum was basically blind!
His technique is unbelievable, although I find you can only listen to so much of his stuff at once. The possibly apocryphal comment of the Emperor of Austria to Mozart sometimes comes to mind: "Too many notes, my dear Mozart." (Not really, but you get the idea).
Norman Granz recorded Tatum solo and in group contexts in the 1950s and a series of these recordings are available on Pablo. Check www.allmusic.com for a complete list and evaluation of Tatum recordings.
Schacter (System | Threads | Answers | This Thread)
Art Tatum 20th Century Piano Genuis may be his peak, and is certainly among the finest jazz piano performances ever recorded. Although it was recorded in an apartment as Tatum played before a handful of people, the recording is superb and the performance is astonishing. It's a double CD, should be available through the usual outlets. Indeed, it does sound as if there are two or three people playing at once. Remarkable.
Waltersalas (System | Threads | Answers | This Thread)
A couple of the Group Masterpiece recordings, including the session with Ben Webster, are available on splendid-sounding XRCDs from JVC. Ben's in the room on this one. Try them.
Swklein (System | Threads | Answers | This Thread)