Yanni: A Tribute to Art Tatum (2005)
Yanni is actually heard in three different settings on this studio effort. He has a trio similar to Tatum's, featuring guitarist Lee Ritenour and bassist Marcus Miller (though Miller forgoes singing in octave unison with his bass line a la Slam Stewart). The trio doesn't make the mistake of attempting to copy Tatum's recordings note for note, but captures the spirit of the late virtuoso's technique with Yanni's own stunning and swinging arrangements of Tatum's specialties.
The trio is heard on four tracks, with the highlights including an easygoing "Gone With the Wind and swinging "Sweet Lorraine with virtuoso flourishes not unlike Tatum's so-called "trick waterfall arpeggios. The sidemen keep their solos brief, generally taking no more than two choruses apiece. Violinist Karen Briggs, who has toured with Yanni, appears on the duet of Antonin Dvorak's "Humoresque, sounding reminiscent of Stuff Smith with her gritty sound (though Smith never recorded with Tatum). Yanni readily adapts to the whimsical nature of this work.
The balance of the CD consists of solo performances. Without resorting to shallow showboating, Yanni's technique comes to the forefront in his blazing renditions of such Tatum showstoppers as "Begin the Beguine," "Yesterdays, "I Know That You Know, Margarita Lecouna's "Taboo and Jules Massenet's "Elegie. His lyrical side is displayed in his warm interpretations of "Danny Boy and "Willow Weep For Me.
I never thought I would say this, but I have finally come to appreciate Yanni.
Track Listing: 1. Yesterdays 2. Gone With the Wind 3. How High the Moon 4. Body and Soul 5. I Know That You Know 6. September Song 7. Taboo 8. Humoresque 9. Sweet Lorraine 10. Elegie 11. Danny Boy 12. Begin the Beguine 13. Willow Weep For Me
Personnel: Yanni/piano (all tracks) Lee Ritenour/guitar (2, 4, 6, 9) Marcus Miller/bass (2, 4, 6, 9) Karen Briggs/violin (8) Tommy LiPuma/producer Jonathan Widran/liner notes
Record Label: 86