This is Art Tatum’s flawless recording of Tea for Two, recorded in 1933, which was the version that was played during a cutting contest with its two competitors, James P Johnson and Fats Waller. Both Fats Waller and James P. Johnson were blown away when they heard this. Soon after, Tatum played his improvised version of Tiger Rag. James P. Johnson could no longer stand it, so he presented his prearranged stride version of Chopin’s Revolutionary Etude, which was perhaps the only thing that could possibly stop this monster.

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40 COMMENTS

  1. @Jaime Perez

    Would you like it if I split up my videos into categories around different topics – one might be music, one might be another interest, etc…?

    I'll eventually get around to posting more videos. Plenty will be music, I am just thinking of diversifying my channel a little bit more, to include my new interests.

  2. sometimes I am listening music in  you tube with modern instrumentists and the like and get filled of sound. Then I return to Art, Fats, Gardner with only a piano playng and had my ears cleaned with pure music a no more. 

  3. One for the imbecile critics: On one occasion, when asked who the greatest pianist in the world was, Horowitz replied without hesitation, ‘Art Tatum.’ Horowitz also said in an interview that ‘If Art Tatum took up classical music seriously, I’d quit my job the next day.’

  4. The way Tatum stretches phrasing, in such a playful way – is totally amazing. He's so in command of rhythm and tempo. No wonder his contemporaries were so blown away. Totally stunning.

  5. I'm happy about comments about ear cleaning with piano music. Musics dont compete against others, but in Tea for two Tatum leads, and his way is  the way
    Thanks  for posting, CBasie. 

  6. This is such a sweet melody, yet Tatum has such mastery over the piece that he has the ability to completely make it his own. He has such fluidity that he can jump up and down the keyboard all day, adding his own flourishes and eccentricities and basically just owning it. Amazing stuff. (Came here via Yuja Wang, incidentally).

  7. WHY, WHY, WHY must people ALWAYS bring up the Tatum vs. Horowitz thing? It's apples and oranges and to reduce these 2 geniuses to a who's the best debate shows a lack of respect, and i would go as far to say, a lack of knowledge in the Classical and Jazz idioms. And BTW, to use Horowitz as the benchmark for Classical pianists really means you need to listen to A LOT more pianists. There are classical pianists whose technical control is greater than Horowitz. If i was going to compare Tatum to a classical pianist it would probably be Cziffra. He was a staggering improviser and like Tatum had frightening reflexes. So, that said, can we just sit back and listen to Tatum's monumental art and stop with the "who's best" debate. Also check out Cziffra's improvising on here. While not as concise and lacking the structure of a Tatum solo they are, in their own right, simply AMAZING.

  8. Wow.
    Wow wow wow.
    It's beyond genius, superlatives can't be found to describe.
    It's as if the piano was invented for Tatum.

    Interesting that this was part of a cutting contest, definitely a little humorous showing off of runs, but such complete mastery, he's so far ahead, so multi-tasking right & left hand, it's just a completely different category than the other greats, so great as they were (Fats & James P. Johnson). 

    Tatum's level of mastery was shared only by those rare peaks of the spectrum of human artistic genius, those few others we know about in the realm of advanced artistic development, up there with Michelangelo, Liszt, Bach. 

    Pointless as it is to compare, there are famed musical virtuosi that are endlessly celebrated beyond what magnificence they actually produced. Even the greats like Chopin, the over-hyped giants like Beethoven, the intolerably bombastic yet endlessly celebrated, like Wagner, etc. 

    Tatum however, is so under-appreciated for the stupendous level of brilliance & greatness he brought to the spectacular & unmatched contribution of American 'jazz' music, which is a genre of complexity & subtlety & compelling ingenuity never matched in any other known or recorded musical genre.

    People are just not following the harmonic fluidity of his re-chording, modulations, the humor & amazing ability to compute minute dissections of rhythm only a MENSA genius could actually follow or have hope to replicate.

    In all the transcriptions & performances of Tatum's piano solos by truly great pianists, nobody has been able really convincingly to do it.  This is not so for Bach, who has been magnificently interpreted by great pianists.  Not so For Liszt.  While likely nobody could play as acrobatically as the original Liszt apparently could, there are magnificent interpretations. 

    It's curious why pianists, however impressive their efforts, simply can't really do Tatum. Perhaps because part of the genius of Tatum was his uncanny ability to chop up the bar, the rhythmic intelligence, it's a brain-lobe people are almost never born with.

  9. I couldn't even fathom how stunning Art's work would have been had his heyday been during the 60s. He was one of very few that was capable of efficiently channeling the perfect intelligence behind nature. A true master.

  10. Someone here mentioned Dorothy Donegan in the comments. She herself was a wonderful pianist from Chicago I believe (but not widely known) in both the classical and jazz idioms, who Tatum himself took under his wing for a spell (as he did Errol Garner, Billy Taylor, Oscar Peterson, and other promising piano players). She resolved the Horowitz-Tatum debate by always saying that Horowitz was the Art Tatum of classical piano and Tatum the Vladimir Horowitz of jazz piano.

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