Art Tatum - Masterpieces

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  • 8/7/2019 Art Tatum - Masterpieces


  • 8/7/2019 Art Tatum - Masterpieces



  • 8/7/2019 Art Tatum - Masterpieces



    by Jed Distler

    Amseo PublkatiomNew Yo rk lLondon lSydDey

  • 8/7/2019 Art Tatum - Masterpieces


    ACKNOWLEDGEMENTSI would like to thank. CUfford Ja y Safane fo r his help in getting th i s p ro j e c t o ff th e groundand c on tr ib utin g re se ar ch m ate ria l~ a s w e ll a s Gary Giddens an d Felicity Howlet tf o r p rov id iDI recordings and vital information. MOSl of all, I thank two exceptional musicians and f r iend s ~D ick H ym lD and A ndrew T h oma s. T h ei r insights and sugges tion s were invaluable tom e in my wode.

    Edi ted by Patricia Ann NeelyCover design by Barbara HoffmanBook desian by Tina CernanoCovet pboIo by Rober t ParentC o p y r i J h t C 1981 by CoDlOHdated Music Publishers,n u s b o ok p ub li sh e d 1986 by Amsco P u bl ic a ti on sl" Civilian ofMUIic SIles CorporatiOD1 New Yert, NYtM rights reserved No p ar t o f this book may bereproduced in an y fonn or by any e le ctr on ic o r m e ch an ic al m e an sIncludinJ information IIOraF and rct ricva1 systems,.without pet lid nio n in wridnJ f rom the publisher .~cept by re vie we r w ho m ay quote brief passages in a r ev iew .: : > r d e r No. A M 30719[ntemational Standard Book Numb er . 0 .8 2 56 .4 08 5 ~73xclusive Distributors:\atusic Sales. Corporatkml . S 7 Park Avenue South, New y~ NY 10010 USA~ _ S a 1 c s LimitedLI 9Prlth Street, Loudon W I V 5TZ EnglandlrIusic Sales Pty. IJmitcd .l20 Rocbschi1d S~ Rosebery , Sydney, NSW 2 01 8 , A u str al ia

    . .~ Id. . . . UailaI .... 101 ..... ..,IXb~ ... -.tPrbid . . 0:Ip0nIi0I

  • 8/7/2019 Art Tatum - Masterpieces


    auArt Tatum 6

    The Art Tatum Style 7Notes on the Sol08 10Ain't Misbehavin' 15Fine and Dandy 2 2Moonglow 3 5I Surrender Dear 4 6Sweet Lorraine (I) 56Sweet Lorraine c n ) . 62A Selected Discography 70

  • 8/7/2019 Art Tatum - Masterpieces



    Art Tatum was born October 18th, 1910 in Toledo, Ohio, totally blind inone eye and with only slight vision in the other. He studied the violin fortwo years and then changed over to the piano when he was about fourteenyears old ..Within a few years, Tatum had made incredible progress" establishingan unprecedented degree of pianistic control and maturity for i. t eenager .At eighteen Tatum became staff pianist on a Toledo radio station, WSPD.As "Arthur Tatum, Toledo's blind pianist," he played background music forEllen Kay's dajly shopping chat program ..Tatum. first came to New York in1932 as an accompanist for singer Adelaide Hall. and it was with her that he._made his first recordings. He cut his rlrst 8010 record; uTiger Rag, , : I on Aug..ust 5th, 1932.Tatum worked primarily in nightclubs throughout the a O s f He led a smallband for a long run at the Three Deuces in Chicago and played at the legend

    ary Onyx Club in New York. In late 1937 he embarked on a small Europeantour. His first major concert appearance, however. was-with a band consist-ing of the winners of the first annual Esquire poll at the Metropolitan OperaHouse in January, 1944~ The concert was recorded in its entirety (on Radi-ola 2MR..5051) and is a rare and instructive examp le of Tatum succesafullyworking with his peers in a live performance. Tatum also placed first in the1945 Metronome Readers' Poll and in the Down Beat C r it ic s' P o U from 1954to 1956.After 1945 Tatum began to play jazz concerts regularly, although he stillmade frequent nightclub appearances as a solo artist and with his trio. Tatumdied of uremia on November 4th, 1966, in Los Angeles. Almost twenty-fiveyears after his death and with the significant developments in jazz piano, ArtTatum '8 music still remains the standard by which the mainstream of jazzsolo piano is measured.

  • 8/7/2019 Art Tatum - Masterpieces


    TheArt Tatum S tyle ,. ; 1 1 '. . . .

    A rt Tatum made his first commercial solo piano recordings in 1932 and1933. These records, aJong with an e~j5tiril ' 1934 aiicheckt show an accom..p1t.hed YirtuOiO steeped in the roots of Fat& Waller and Lee Sims; two pian-isb who made deep impreaions upon the young Tatum. Lee Sim~ was a"pop" pianilt who often uaed arpeggios, runs; and extended harmonic struc-turea to embellish the melodies be used. TheWaller influence, however, hasa pealer bearlnr on Tatumta style in terms of his lefthand conception andhit overa1llenJe of swing ..LikeWal le r , Tatum often "strides in tenths" (the letthind using patterns alternating tenths in the baa s . r eg i .s t er with full chords inthe middle register) and also like Waller , seldom uses the hem.iola or drop..bass left-hand patterns developed by James P. JohI;J.lOn and Will ie "The Lion' tSmith. From a musical standpoint these recordings. a r e faecinatinl and ove r -whelming ..The younlArt Tatum sho~ off his taehnique, freq~~ntly destroy ..inl the momentum of a ballad. by suddenly falling into v~ fast stride tem-pOI and embroidering his naturally swinging melodic phrases with glib arpeg.gios. The overall importance of these recordings Iiesin. theit awesome pian-istic authority and control. Even at breakneck tempos Tatum managed toBOu n d completely re laxed and at ease .

    Between 1934 an d 1941 Tatum recoJ'ded. many so1oa tor the. Brunswickand Decca labels (reissued in ~e United States by MeA). These leslioni in..clude hia m.ost famous, and probably deftnitive, ve~ons ot I!uch clards u"Tea for Two,'" "Tiger Rag,Jt liGet Happy."; "Sweet .LQ~et'l uEJegie,t' and"HumorBIQue_" All the facets ot his style have become ~Q~. tOCUled . Heu aea lU na a n d arpeggios more discreetly. 8 1 ; 1 . d the P 4m utjc tex ture s are bothtrailIparent and yet full bodied. :The first recordings ot the Art Tatum Tr io 1943. The clever

    enaemble arrangements and often humoroUi interplay between Tatum, guitar-ist Tiny Grimes, and bUliit Slam Stewart added to the group's popularity ..Although. tlJe trio was 8 tempting format to r ditplaylnl the flashy &ideof histalent Tatum could, and often didt deliver driVing, non-stop, l~ear improvi-sations that hinted at what Bud Powe]1 would be doing in the late 40s andwha t OlCar Peterson would do vwry loon after. He worked on and o ff in atrio letting until .hortly before his death in 1956.

    Tatum recorded .poradically from 1946 to the middle of 1949 ..HiJ re-cordinp from the latter part of that yaar , , however , . reveal ..a ign if ic an t mus ica lItOwth and a r e important in comparison to bis subsequent recordinpt Hisplaying on the three 1010 sessions fo r Capitol and on the Columbia LP reMcorded in concert is richly textured, rhythmically adventurous, an d sophiaticated harmonically. The role of the left hand hu in~~ considerably;Tatum 'a bass lines are more adventurous. frequently using walking left.handchords with tenths as the outside interval. (This is particularly significantsince the bop pianists who were coming of age lett their left hands at home,with the notable exceptions of George Shearinl,. Dave McKenna, and HankJones.) TatulUts lett hand frequently breaks away from its accompanying.role and becomes an equal partner with the right 'hand, Iharing roles .andembellimQlents and providing countermelodies. This mUlical development. can be o~ in the transcriptions in ~ v~lume. (CoJDP~f tor e.z.ample,,.AiD~ Misbehavin I' " with "-Moollllow" or the two ve_ona qt ISweet Lor-. . . . .

  • 8/7/2019 Art Tatum - Masterpieces


    " , ' _ -----:--- .:Between ntc4UPber, 1953 and January, 1955 Tatum recorded four mara-. . . . . . . _. --.thon solo pi8no sessions for jazz producer and entrepreneur Norman Granz. - " ~ :that resulted" .It,. the releoe of four teen long-playing albums ..Granz .also re-corded Tatumbi:a myriad of small group settings with such.featured artists, , . . " 1 " .. .,a s L d on el H a m p ~ : ' B e n r t y carter, Buddy de Franco. Roy Eldridge, Jo Jones,Buddy Rich ..and Ben W~~ster. The solo piano project however was probably

    - ! : J the most ambitious and, considering Granz's intentions, it was only partiallyauccessful, According to his liner notes on the original Clef and Verve LPs.Granz intended to record and release as many Art Tatum 8010 selections aspOMib l e , th~~y building an uArt Ta tum library. " Most o f the tun es w ererecorded in one-take: the producer apparently assumed that h~ pianist coulddo no wronga The end results are always diffuse an d uneven because Tatum'shealth \vu failing around the time of these sessionsl This writer thinks theNorman Granz sessions were more of 8token to posterity than-an attempt topreserve a f inished product. Nevertheless, Tatum"s 8ccompiishmentaareoftenfascinating~ There are times when it seems that Tatum was searching for anew musical language, and some of the startling harmonic and rhythmiccomplexities in these selections partly indicate that Tatum listened to andhad absorbed the innovations of the bop musicians, However, Tatwn re..mained a swing player in his overall conceptions of time and phrasing~ Al-though Tatum played informally with Charlie Parker and other modem mu-sicians one wonders how Ta tum. 's music would have been affected if he hadcollaborated with these players on a regular basis (as Coleman Hawkins didthroughout his career, successfully and uncompromisingly)~ It is alIo a pitythat, in a project undertaken to preserve huge dOl8l of exceptional pianism,Tatum re-recorded his '''semi-claasical'' a r rangements ot "Humoresque" and"Elelie" when he .could very wel l have recorded some ot the ela'sical piano. .literature that be knew. such .. theChopin waltzes or the Chopin Prelude inB& .minor op. 28, No. 16. (There is a private t B J ? " existinl of Tatum impro-