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Reviewers: Tony Augarde [Editor], Steve Arloff, Nick Barnard, Pierre Giroux, Don Mather, James Poore, Glyn Pursglove, George Stacy, Bert Thompson, Sam Webster, Jonathan Woolf



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ART TATUM, BENNY CARTER,
LOUIE BELLSON TRIO

Poll Winners Records PWR 27334

 

 

1. Blues in C

2. Undecided

3. Under a Blanket of Blue

4. Blues in B flat

5. A Foggy Day

6. Street of Dreams

7. ĎS Wonderful

8. Makiní Whoopee

9. Old Fashioned Love

10. (Iím Left with) The Blues in My Heart

11. My Blue Heaven

12. Hands across the Table

13. Youíre Mine, You

14. Idaho

15. Makiní Whoopee (1953 solo piano version)

16. Makiní Whoopee (1949 solo piano version)

Art Tatum Ė Piano

Benny Carter Ė Alto sax (tracks 1-14)

Louie Bellson Ė Drums (tracks 1-14)

This is one of a series of recordings in which producer Norman Granz put Art Tatum into the studio with a variety of other jazzmen. The results were stunningly impressive, particularly as Tatum had never been considered the ideal accompanying pianist. Yet here he fitted in without obtruding and added considerably to the rhythmic pulse of each tune. Another third of the trio on this particular album was altoist Benny Carter, whose sweet tone and smooth improvising made him the perfect counterbalance for Tatum. The first 14 tracks were originally released as three EPs on the Clef label and two LPs on the Verve label. Two solo piano tracks are added as space-fillers.

The opening Blues in C is a model of relaxed, gentle swing. Tatumís excellent accompaniments are typified by the trills with which he backs Benny Carterís alto. Tatum had never recorded previously with Carter, but they sound absolutely comfortable in each otherís company. Under a Blanket of Blue is an ideal vehicle for Benny Carterís legato style. Youíre Mine, You is another number wholly suited to Carterís rhapsodic approach.

One of my favourite tracks on the album is (Iím Left with) The Blues in my Heart, which was composed by Benny Carter. The trio sets a model tempo for it (a medium-slow lope) and that forms the basis for some imaginative extemporisation. It is just the right tempo for Tatumís style, which still has the rhythm of stride hidden somewhere inside it.

Louie Bellson generally stays in the background, keeping the beat without much imagination. But his drum solo on Undecided is a success because he keeps the beat as well as using the outline of the tune as the standard for his solo, which is punctuated by Tatum.

Art Tatum was only a few years away from death when these sessions were recorded. Norman Granz got Tatum into the studio just in time to capture his genius in recordings with good modern sound. Hearing these tracks, nobody could deny that Tatum was the most extraordinary and technically brilliant jazz pianist of all time.

Tony Augarde
www.augardebooks.co.uk



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