From the album, “Art Tatum Solo Masterpieces Vol. 6”, Pablo.

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36 COMMENTS

  1. The guy was a sevant when it came to multi-tasking and thinking on the spot. There's a documentary about Tatum on youtube (just search "art tatum documentary") that his brother talking about how he used to know every single sports statistic for every single sport for every single player at the time. He knew the history behind baseball players nobody ever heard of, same went for football and hockey and hell… everything else. Dude was a true genius, and that's what made him great at improv ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. I agree. Tatum, for me, was all about speed and fast runs. I much prefer pianists like Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Art Hodes and others. Soul and feeling.

  3. Popularity does not make something genius, i cant stand the majority of mainstream rap music because it has negative messages and is created out of the love for money and fame. It is marketed to ignorant people and has nothing to do with art or music. Most rappers don't write their own lyrics. They are poster boys who are created for nothing more than profit. There is no genius involved with that. I love positive hip hop with a passion and do write my own rhymes, I just need music with true soul

  4. he goes into unexpected places which make my skin all shuddery, in this piece, which is certainly not a showoff-of-technique piece. I would just never expect some of the places he gets to, it is as if he has invented a new scale

  5. I'm a sax player who deifies Coltrane more than anybody, but Art Tatum is the greatest musician to have ever lived. ย I have no doubt he would shred Beethoven and Liszt as well. ย Just obscene talent. ย ย 

  6. One day Oscar Peterson told Andre' Previn: … If you speak of pianists, the most complete pianist that we have known and possibly will know, from what Iโ€™ve heard to date, is Art Tatum. Musically speaking, he was and still is my musical God, and I feel honored to remain one of his humbly devoted disciples.

  7. Addressing many of the comments already posted, I wish to strike some balance into the arguments presented. Art Tatum is definitely one of the most amazing musicians ever to have lived. That is not debatable. Johann Sebastian Bach is also one of the greatest (not debatable), and some would say THE greatest (a serious contender, anyway). Likewise L. van Beethoven was one of the greats, and was perhaps Tatum's equal in improvisation, if you adjust for differences of style. Nobody of his day would dare even attempt to unseat him, for they would be rendered into a pulverized mush by the master. That sounds a lot like what we hear of those who would attempt to play for Art Tatum, who would then take what they did and embarrass them with it.

    Those who attempt to compare jazz and classical and find one superior over the other inevitably miss the point. You have to consider the styles of their eras. Bach was old fashioned in his own time, but was such a master that he commanded all-out respect, no matter who you were. Even so, he pointed the way to eventual romanticism and modernism in many of his works, and was probably influenced by his kids to try new things. He improvised an 8 voice fugue, then took it home and worked out the extended collection we now call "The Art of the Fugue." So, yes, classical music โ€” as WRITTEN โ€” is usually more worked out. But classical composers are often known for their improvisatory skills. The general public doesn't usually hear this. There isn't currently an outlet for it, so it's mainly the composer's/performer's friends and family who hear them cutting loose. Trust me, there are some immense talents out there, classical AND jazz, for whom technique has long since been forgotten, and rendering anything on the keyboard presents no problem of any sort. They all blur the lines between composing and performing.

    That said, it's a bit of a misnomer to say that musicians are composing in the classical sense when improvising. For example, when Art Tatum played a song, it was first of all a song, known to all, composed by someone else. It was more like he played others' songs in the style of Art Tatum, and that style consisted of many bass lines, riffs and licks that Tatum had worked out over his lifetime. Yes, it was a fabulous vocabulary of such things, and he could modify them at will, but if you listen to 30 songs by Art Tatum, you will hear some of those licks at least 30 times, and some of them you hear many times per song. You can say the same is true for almost any composer; it's what makes one recognizable after just a few phrases. But composers who write with a pen work over a broad variety of styles in an attempt to keep wringing out interesting and unique bits from the 12 notes we have available in Western music, along with the pretty narrow set of rules of modulation and progression โ€”ย which tend to be the same rules whether the style is jazz, classical, country, rock, or pop. It's easier to make a longer work, more like a novel compared to a short story or poem, unique when you have the time to think about it and the luxury of editing it. Jazz composers would not argue with that, but spontaneous improvisation leads to other kinds of uniqueness having more to do with ways of incorporating one's vocabulary of licks and progressions. Real-time flow of ideas, as it were.

    All these performers are operating at the limits of human capabilities. It's easy to tell when one stands out among the rest, for they seem blessed with limitless capabilities, though if you listen to them again and again, you soon realize that even they have limits, repeating themselves often; they've just pushed it to a new level. That's what Bach did. So did Beethoven and Liszt. And the tradition continues with Art Tatum, though one wouldn't stop there. Oscar Peterson, while humble and self-deprecating, is perhaps more inventive and musical than Tatum, BECAUSE he could stand on Tatum's already tall shoulders. And now you've got Hiromi standing atop Liszt AND Tatum, and Peterson and Jarrett, and everyone else who came before her. I'm not saying she's Tatum's equal; just that she has him to draw upon, along with Liszt and others. Music keeps evolving, and as it does, styles get mixed, technique gets advanced, and we continue to be dazzled.

    Don't disrespect those who perform works by others, and who do not improvise a solo. They do something remarkable, too. They sightread written music as nobody else can, learning the most difficult works in days or weeks, making musical sense of clusters of notes that appear meaningless to lesser musicians. Without them, you would not know how Bach, Mozart, Chopin, Beethoven, Liszt, Prokofiev, Rachmaninoff, and others can sound. At some point you really have to specialize. I've heard people who do both the classical repertory and jazz very well, but I've never heard Art Tatum and Art Rubinstein rolled up in the same person. You have to make a choice along the line and say "this is what I'm going to do to the best of my ability." Respect that choice. Don't diss them because they didn't make the choice you might have made if you had their talent. Remember, it's still remarkable talent pushing the limits of human ability.

    Enjoy all forms of music, and recognize the outstanding talents of each style. Performing music is extremely competitive โ€” more so than Olympic events โ€”ย but listening does not have to be. As a listener you can enjoy them all. After a certain level, let's call it the 90th percentile, performers or composers are no longer "better than" or "worse than" their peers; only different. Learn to hear that, and the whole world of music will be wonderful throughout your entire lifetime.

  8. I just think it's interesting how Art could play just as good (better?) when drinking… One would think that it would really make his playing lackluster and sloppy but it doesn't at all.. Strange just makes me wonder if alcohol isn't totally useless and actually helps some people be more creative or something

  9. " . . . And the dreams that you dare to dream really do come true. . . ."ย  Only Y. B. "Yip" Harburg's brilliant talent could come up with such a powerful lyric.ย  Harold Arlen, who collaborated with over 120 writers was no slouch, either.ย  This is one of the greatest songs of the Twentieth Century, performed by one of the greatest piano technicians of the same.ย  Brilliance, talent, genius . . . hyperbole and superlatives fail for this.

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