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Reviewers: Don Mather, Dick Stafford, Marc Bridle, John Eyles, Ian Lace, Colin Clarke



Art Tatum - piano

Recorded 1933 - 1940

Naxos Jazz Legends 8.120610


1. Tiger Rag
2. St Louis Blues
3. Sophisticated Lady
4. Tea For Two
5. Moonglow
6. Emaline
7. Love Me
8. Cocktails For Two
9. The Shout
10. After You've Gone
11. Liza ( Take A )
12. Liza ( Take D )
13. ( I Would Do ) Anything For You
14. Gone With The Wind
15. Stormy Weather
16. Humoresque
17. Elegie
18. Sweet Lorraine
19. Lullaby Of The Leaves
20. Get Happy

Probably all of the superlatives have been used at one time or another to describe the playing of Art Tatum. His technical ability on the piano has surely never been equalled, let alone surpassed. Possibly the only pianists to come anywhere near in terms of sheer mastery of the instrument have been, at their very best, Bud Powell and Oscar Peterson. Styles and tastes have certainly changed but Tatum remains a colossus of modern music. The clarity of his up tempo playing is absolutely awe-inspiring and his melodic and harmonic invention beggar description in terms of facility and creativity.

This disc is a compilation of solo performances, which arguably show Tatum at his best. There are many recordings available which feature the trio and also illustrate the pianist's undeniable talent as an accompanist but there is always the feeling that he is somewhat hampered by the presence of other musicians, no matter how talented they might be. There is a certain abandon in his best solo recordings that never seems to be there even with players of exceptional ability whether it be a virtuosic clarinettist such as Buddy De Franco or a more rhapsodic interpreter such as Ben Webster.

The selections here contain many of the pianist's warhorses including the title track, " Tea For Two," "Get Happy" and two truly excellent versions of George Gershwin's "Liza". All of Art Tatum's trademark devices are present including sudden tempo changes, outrageous melodic sequences and spiralling arabesques .
This is an essential for any lover of the piano in Jazz and is doubly attractive because of the low price and excellent presentation.

Dick Stafford


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