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Art Tatum (1909-1956)

GUEST,DDT 03 Mar 13 - 03:17 PM
catspaw49 03 Mar 13 - 03:45 PM
pdq 03 Mar 13 - 04:57 PM
Stanron 03 Mar 13 - 04:59 PM
Mark Clark 03 Mar 13 - 06:51 PM
GUEST,DDT 03 Mar 13 - 09:17 PM
GUEST,DDT 03 Mar 13 - 09:18 PM
GUEST,Blandiver 04 Mar 13 - 04:24 AM
GUEST,Stim 04 Mar 13 - 10:37 AM
pdq 04 Mar 13 - 11:29 AM
GUEST,Blandiver 04 Mar 13 - 11:46 AM
GUEST,DDT 04 Mar 13 - 11:58 AM
Bettynh 19 Jun 13 - 12:57 PM
PHJim 19 Jun 13 - 09:58 PM
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Subject: Art Tatum
From: GUEST,DDT
Date: 03 Mar 13 - 03:17 PM

Art Tatum (1909-1956) was born in Toledo and showed musical promise at an early age despite being born nearly blind. At 3, he was already playing piano by ear via listening to his mother's church choir and then repeating what they sang. Later, he listened to the radio and to player-pianos which were still popular at that time reproducing what he heard. He was sent to the Toledo School of Music where he was deeply trained in classical music in which he excelled but Art wanted to play jazz (fortunately, there are a lot of recordings of Art playing extraordinary classical renditions). By the late 20s, the jazz world was abuzz about the incredible technique of this kid from Toledo. When Art went to New York in 1932, he was set upon by the best stride pianists in the business—James P. Johnson (author of "Charleston"), Fats Waller and Willie "The Lion" Smith. Art blew past them with a blazing rendition of "Tea for Two." The crowd was speechless, no one had ever heard piano played this way before. Johnson was determined to bring the kid to his knees and played powerfully and masterfully everything from ragtime to stride to boogie-woogie to magnificent classical pieces by Chopin. Waller said he had never heard Johnson play so perfectly and masterfully before or since that night in Harlem. Then Art played "Tiger Rag" with such speed and dexterity that it brought the house down. Johnson bowed out and admitted defeat. Waller recalled, "That Tatum, he was just too good!" Johnson recalled, "When Tatum played 'Tea for Two' that night, I guess that was the first time I ever heard it really played."

Every piece that Art Tatum plays is a lesson in jazz technique and theory. He made use of stride piano techniques invented by powerhouses like Johnson, Waller and Smith and added dense blocks of beautiful chords that he learned from studying Liszt whom he idolized that he used to erect towering edifices of musical structure like no one else has done before or since. His use of passing notes were densely packed together into every bar he played with rapid-fire precision in a way no one else had ever conceived. He incorporated concert hall piano techniques so that his pieces could be played in small clubs or in concert halls and it would still have the same awesome power. By the time, he was done, he had incorporated into a single system everything that was offered in the African-American and European piano traditions. True jazz piano was born. Art Tatum is in himself an entire school of jazz. Whether he played solo or with a band, Art was a master of jazz improvisation and technique. No one fortunate enough to play with him ever walked away without having just learned incredible things about music he had never even dreamed about before. Some complain that Art didn't focus enough on composition and played the Songbook too much but his renditions were SO original that they actually ARE original compositions, new ways of hearing an old standard so that it sounded as though you were hearing it for the first time. His rendition of "I Know That You Know" is played at an astonishing 400 beats per minute!

Art had so thoroughly exhausted everything in jazz piano at that time that other keyboardists from Oscar Peterson to Erroll Garner to Nat King Cole to McCoy Tyner to Earl Hines to Red Garland to Bill Evans to Monk to Brubeck to Lennie Tristano to Bud Powell to all the great modern jazz pianists who see mostly come out of Japan these days have to chart new territory, get out from under Tatum's immense shadow, otherwise risk being labeled as an Art Tatum copycat which is doubly bad because he can't be copied. No one else can match him. He single-handedly propelled piano to heights it could not have today had he not existed. So ahead of his time was Art that most of the mind-bogglingly vast musical vocabulary that he invented and evolved all by himself remains uncharted, unexplored. Only tiny bits of it are used today by pianists who admit that even the oldest recordings of Art's playing both thrill and scare them and reduce many of them to tears partly out of awe and partly out of frustration. The vast majority of what Art has left behind for us, his massive legacy, just sits there on the books waiting to be picked up and used by someone bold and dexterous enough to know what to do with it. That has not happened yet.


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Subject: RE: Art Tatum
From: catspaw49
Date: 03 Mar 13 - 03:45 PM

Dunno' what made you post this but if anyone even remotely familiar with jazz knows of Art Tatum. That cuttin' contest is legendary. And I can add that I remember Brubeck once said that ever having another Art Tatum was as likely as ever having another Mozart.

A legendary Master, unmatched. Thanks for the post.


Spaw


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Subject: RE: Art Tatum
From: pdq
Date: 03 Mar 13 - 04:57 PM

Esquire's All-American Hot Jazz Sessions

The Esquire jazz project was born one night in 1943 at the Hurricane, a large NYC club where Duke Ellington was playing. Legendary jazz critic & producer Leonard Feather was in the audience, seated with Esquire Magazine editor Arnold Gingrich, and Robert Goffin (Belgian critic).

By the end of the evening, the three jazz fans agreed to put together a panel of experts to create the Esquire Jazz Poll--the first time a mainstream American magazine had paid regular attention to jazz. The Esquire polls continued for four years, through 1947, and were accompanied by concerts featuring the winners. Leonard Feather also set up special recording sessions featuring winners, many of which appear on this CD.

A partial listing of artists includes Louis Armstrong, Neal Hefti, Jack Teagarden, J.J. Johnson, Johnny Hodges, Benny Carter, Don Byas, Coleman Hawkins, Duke Ellington, Billy Strayhorn, Teddy Willson, Art Tatum, Erroll Garner, Red Norvo, Barney Kessel Red Callender, Shelly Manne and Mildred Bailey.


{Art Tatum was the poll first winner and featured at the first concert on January 18, 1944 at the NY Met.}


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Subject: RE: Art Tatum
From: Stanron
Date: 03 Mar 13 - 04:59 PM

This is the second jazz thread I've read from you on this forum. Are there no jazz forums?


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Subject: RE: Art Tatum
From: Mark Clark
Date: 03 Mar 13 - 06:51 PM

Stanron wrote “This is the second jazz thread I've read from you on this forum. Are there no jazz forums?”

Of course there are jazz forums but we are lucky that Guest DDT chose to post here, perhaps in addition to posting elsewhere. This is a great thread and I for one am delighted to have seen it. Thanks, Guest DDT.

      - Mark


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Subject: RE: Art Tatum (1909-1956)
From: GUEST,DDT
Date: 03 Mar 13 - 09:17 PM

The jazzers already know this stuff--or they should and shame on them if they don't. Art's legend needs to be spread into other genres besides jazz. That's the best chance not of preserving it (it's already recorded) but of keeping it alive and growing. What a waste if the bast majority of his legacy sits there in suspended animation for the rest of time. If the jazzers aren't going to use it, then other genres must show them how. I see folk as the most viable candidate with which to accomplish this.

Tatum's school might be the very antidote for the doldrums in which modern music languishes as it drifts aimlessly about.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GLYT3cPA5T8&playnext=1&list=PLDF0FF3791590FB71&feature=results_video


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Subject: RE: Art Tatum (1909-1956)
From: GUEST,DDT
Date: 03 Mar 13 - 09:18 PM

Art does Chopin:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fylxor4zo0w


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Subject: RE: Art Tatum (1909-1956)
From: GUEST,Blandiver
Date: 04 Mar 13 - 04:24 AM

I see folk as the most viable candidate with which to accomplish this.

I'm trying to ignore this, but - how come?


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Subject: RE: Art Tatum (1909-1956)
From: GUEST,Stim
Date: 04 Mar 13 - 10:37 AM

From what he's posted on other threads, DDT seems to think that we have much to learn from him...what is good, what is bad, what to listen to, and what not to listen to.

For my part, I've been listening to Art Tatum for about 40 years. That doesn't mean I listen to DDT, though...


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Subject: RE: Art Tatum (1909-1956)
From: pdq
Date: 04 Mar 13 - 11:29 AM

The initial post seems to be an attempt to name all the great non-Classical pianists in the first half of the 20th Century.

If that is the case, we need to add Ferdinand "Jelly Roll" Morton and Teddy Wilson to the list.

Also, the three great Boogie Woogie stylists: Albert Ammons, Pete Johnson and Meade Lux Lewis.

Consider too Freddie Slack, Count Basie and Duke Ellington, all of whom played great piano and were able to use that skill to leads their fine bands.


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Subject: RE: Art Tatum (1909-1956)
From: GUEST,Blandiver
Date: 04 Mar 13 - 11:46 AM

Art Tatum is one of the finest musicians ever to walk the planet, and I doubt you'll find anyone here (or anywhere else) who'll disagree with that. I'm just baffled as to how this has anything to do with Folk Music. Folk is a predominantly white construct that views Tradition in terms of reaction & revival rather than the sort of radical restructuring that Tatum was involved in, which is Traditional in a very different sense. As such Tatum's progressive African-American legacy lived on through people like Duke Ellington, Thelonius Monk and Sun Ra - and carries on in the music Cecil Taylor, who is often compared to Tatum yet is about as as far away from Folk Music as you can get.

I can't think of one Black self-confessed 'Folk musician' in the sense that Folkies would understand, and no Folk musician who represents the sort of singularly radical virtuosity evidenced by Tatum, on any instrument, much less the piano.

And modern music certainly ain't in no doldrums. So - all in all - a bit of a baffler.

Respect to DDT's mission / passion / zeal though. I've been listening a lot to Art Tatum today, which can be no bad thing.


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Subject: RE: Art Tatum (1909-1956)
From: GUEST,DDT
Date: 04 Mar 13 - 11:58 AM

Actually, it was I who had hoped to learn from you but that would mean you have something to teach which is apparently not the case. I tried. Thanks.


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Subject: RE: Art Tatum (1909-1956)
From: Bettynh
Date: 19 Jun 13 - 12:57 PM

Prompted by this thread, I've imported some Art Tatum for listening. The thing that stands out for me is the fact that he can play an octave plus a third easily, and I think I hear a fifth here and there. That's a span of 13 piano keys. Not only was he incredibly athletic and accurate in playing, his hands were HUGE. I could only span an octave, perhaps a ninth, when I was playing piano.


For musicians who have a hard time listening to piano, I recommend listening to Dave McKenna. He was the ultimate cocktail pianist - some of his medleys are 15 minutes long. He's known for his left hand - walking bass and "guitar chords." Here's a sample.


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Subject: RE: Art Tatum (1909-1956)
From: PHJim
Date: 19 Jun 13 - 09:58 PM

GUEST,Blandiver, I hope we're not gonna get started trying to define folk music once again.
Depending on how you define it, I can think of many "Black self-confessed 'Folk musician(s)'", (also depending on how you define "black" I guess). Odetta, Harry Belafonte, Lead Belly, Big Bill Broonzy, Sonny Terry, Brownie McGhee, Memphis Slim, Tracy Chapman, The Staple Singers, ibba Cotten, Jesse Fuller, Robert Johnson, Josh White, Al Cromwell, Richie Havens... have all played in "Folk venues" and been featured in "Folk Magazines". They may not have called their music "folk". Likely they just called it "music".
The first copy of Sing Out!, The Folk Song Magazine that I bought in 1961, had Memphis Slim on the cover and an article about Sonny & Brownie inside.
Many of the coffee houses that I frequented from 1960 onward featured both jazz and "folk". The first performer I ever saw in a coffee house, The Black Swan on Houston Street S. in Hamilton, Ontario, was Jackie Washington. Jackie sang songs from the folk repertoire as well as songs from the jazz repertoire. Through his long career, he performed along side of musicians from both jazz and folk.
There are many examples of the jazz/folk crossover, but I think I'll go and listen to a record of Woody Guthrie and Sidney Bechet playing together.


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