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UPC - 660652902222
Art Tatum - Standards

Release Date - Sep, 2000

I'Ll Get By - 2.27
Sweet Loraine - 2.33
Can'T We Be Friends - 2.16
I'Ll Never Be The Same - 2.31
Make Believe - 2.08
Judy - 2.17
Body And Soul - 2.27
Elegy - 2.23
Happy Feet - 1.44
Royal Garden Blues - 2.26
Ain'T Misbehavin - 2.38
Stardust - 2.35
In A Sentimental Mood - 2.23
The Man I Love - 2.45
Running Wild - 2.27
I Can'T Get Started - 3.01
Get Happy - 1.56
Begin The Beguine - 2.45
It Had To Be You - 2.26
Humoresque - 2.21
Hallelujah - 2.04
Lullaby In Rhytm - 1.57
Oh You Crazy Moon - 2.24
Over The Rainbow - 3.48

It seems funny to think of Art Tatum playing a violin, but that was the way he started in music! He soon found out that he was not a violinist, but his parents made him persevere in the hope, no doubt, of his making progress later on. But after two frustrating years, Art changed over to piano and made rapid advances in the first few lessons. He was then about fourteen years old. Tatum studied in the usual way, although he was handicapped by very poor eyesight. Being blind in one eye with very weak sight in the other made conventional study difficult. After several operations the sight in his good eye improved and he could then see things held close to his face with the aid of glasses. Later, he was taught the Braille system which was a quicker and more comfortable method of reading. Unfortunately in later years Tatum was struck on the head - his good eye was injured, and for the rest of his life he was unable to pick out more than shadowy outlines of objects. Art attended the Jefferson School for handicapped children and it was here where he probably learned Braille. His education was completed at the Cousino School for the Blind in Columbus, Ohio. Returning to his hometown of Toledo, Art then took up studies at the Toledo School of Music. Mr. Overton G. Rainey, one of his piano teachers, wanted to train Tatum for a career in the concert hall. But this was not to be, for Tatum became interested in jazz and liked it so much that he set his ambitions in that direction. Tatum's wonderful ear for music, combined with training, allowed him to pick up jazz styles from such pianists as Fats Waller and very like from local jazz performers too. The more florid side of his playing was, I think, encouraged by his listening to Lee Sims, a stylish pianist of the early Thirties, who was very popular on radio and records because of his attractive arrangements of the tunes of the day. Sims had an advanced knowledge of harmony and a fluent style. His name appeared on a quick selling range of piano tutors and his arrangements often included changes of tempo, rhythmic passages and semi-classical interludes, which may have encouraged Art to vary his own performances in a similar way when the tune lent itself to this kind of treatment. But there was a big difference between the two pianists; Art Tatum played jazz whereas Lee Sims was a soloist more in the 'commercial' tradition of entertainers. Tatum worked around Toledo with local bands when he was eighteen and became staff pianist on Radio WSPD - the result of taking part in an amateur programme. As 'Arthur Tatum, Toledo's blind pianist' he often appeared on Ellen Kay's daily shopping chat series. His first trip to New York was as accompanist to Adelaide Hall who, with the help of her husband Bert Hicks, persuaded Tatum's parents to let him travel away from home. They worked together for three years before Art decided it was time he played on his own and left for Chicago to take up a two year's residency at 'The Three Deuces'. Tatum recorded with Adelaide Hall in 1932 and later in 1933 he made his first solo titles. By then, his career was well established, but although he had a fabulous command of the piano, he still practiced daily and experimented with harmonic ideas which were taken up a decade later by the Bop pioneers. In an interview on one of his many radio broadcasts, he said, 'I don't feel I have the technical facilities I'd like to have. A guy should get better and better, if he doesn't, he should quit.' Tatum practiced for about one and a half hours a day, which was not very long, but then progress came easily to him. Art had a wonderful musical memory. He could play a piece, then much later recall the same number note for note. This was to be a big asset, as often customers would come into the club where he was performing, listen to him and say, 'I heard you play that number fifteen years ago and you don't play it that way anymore!' Consequently, Tatum always tried to play arrangements which he had made popular on his recordings. Another problem Tatum experienced with his club followers was their insatiable appetite for pianistic fireworks. On another radio interview Tatum complained, 'If you're built as a technician you can hardly live it down. Every place you play, if you don't play a lot of technical things, People say, 'He's slipping - he doesn't play as well as he used to'.' Even with his outstanding musical ability, Art Tatum had time to listen to his contemporaries. He was very much aware of what other pianists were doing and admired such varied players as Jess Stacy, Billy Taylor, Dick Hyman, Mel Powell and, of course, Teddy Wilson, his old friend of the Toledo days. But by all accounts, Tatum always was in a class of his own. He reached his maturity of style relatively early in life and, at the time of his death in November 1956 when he was just forty-six, it seemed that he had dominated the jazz keyboard for decades. Tatum was always quick to give credit to Fats Waller as his original influence, but the style which emerged was unique in the annals of music due to Art's incredible digital dexterity and phenomenal m emory. Without trying he could easily outstrip any other instrumentalist for he was in every sense of the term a soloist. This disc presents Tatum the soloist in selections recorded for Standard Transcriptions, with no other musicians in attendance. Unfettered by the need to accompany others, Art's imagination is allowed free rein with the result that the tempo and key changes are often swift and unexpected. Tatum was sometimes criticized for playing too much piano in the sense that if he wanted to move his right hands, say, from around middle C to a position three octaves further up the keyboard, he was likely to use this as an excuse for inserting a glittering run or some leaping arpeggios. I have often wondered how much this method was conditioned by Art's almost total lack of sight. Did he keep his hands on the keyboard as much as he did in order to retain reference points, just as a blind man will count the number of paces he knows he must take from a corner to his front door? It is certainly true that both Lennie Tristano and George Shearing, two other blind pianists, tend to use long runs similar to those associated with Tatum. Apart from the early influences of Fats Waller and Lee Sims, Tatum showed in his solos very little which could be associated with the many fine pianists playing around the clubs. I suppose it could be argued that he did not need to borrow ideas from his competitors - he had such an abundance of his own. Ray Spencer I'll Get By (As Long As I Have You) 2:27 Sweet Lorraine 2:33 Can't We Be Friends 2:16 I'll Never Be The Same 2:31 Make Believe 2:08 Judy 2:17 Body And Soul 2:27 Elegy 2:23 Happy Feet 1:44 Royal Garden Blues 2:26 Ain't Misbehavin' 2:38 Stardust 2:35 In A Sentimental Mood 2:23 The Man I Love 2:45 Running Wild 2:27 I Can't Get Started 3:01 Get Happy 1:56 Begin The Beguine 2:45 It Had To Be You 2:26 Humoresque 2:21 Hallelujah 2:04

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