Art Tatum: Piano Starts Here: Live at the Shrine (2008)
The Zenph recording technology will be the most important aspect in deciding whether you will give this Tatum album a spin, so here are the details; the engineers have taken Tatum's Piano Starts Here, a fifty year old live recording, and rerecorded it by digitized the music, capturing every single nuance from touch to pedal action, and recorded it again through a piano fashioned for the purpose, capturing in both stereo surround and binaural stereo. Thus the poor recording quality of the original is gone, and you get a pristine recording of what it would sound like had you actually been at the club to hear it.
Skeptical? Don't be. The recording sounds like Tatum at work and captures the sound of his music superbly. It's nothing remotely like the old demonstration pianos you used to see in music stores, the sound is not overly digitized and is in fact quite warm. You'll soon find yourself forgetting that you're hearing a representation of Tatum's work rather than the real thing, such are the wonders of this technology. The album is also rerecorded twice: in a surround version and a binaural stereo version specifically designed for headphones.
So much has been made of Tatum's gargantuan technique that it needn't be repeated here. This is Tatum in his prime, albeit once removed. And therein will lie the rub for many; if this a worthy jazz record or a pale impostor? Is it better to pick up the original in all its recorded glory, or a better sounding facsimile? Many will answer these questions, and cast their judgment before ever hearing it. The technology has amazing possibilities; time and demand will tell how far it can go.
Track Listing: Tea For Two; St. Louis Blues; Tiger Rag; Sophisticated Lady; Humoresque: Tatum Pole Boogie; Someone To Watch Over Me; How High the Moon; Yesterdays; Willow Weep For Me; The Kerry Dance; Gershwin Medley; I Know That You Know.
Personnel: Art Tatum: piano.