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These 12 recently remastered tracks were culled from the Complete Pablo Group Masterpieces, a six-CD set of Art Tatum playing with assorted all-star groups from 1954-56. Since Tatum played solo for most of his career, these are rare gems which provide fodder for the endless debate over whether Tatum could, in fact, play well with others.
Scott Yanow, in his characteristically informative liners, suggests that most musicians were simply scared to death to share the bandstand with the pianist. There's no question that Tatum had peerless technique; reportedly, Vladimir Horowitz, the great classical pianist, once examined Tatum's piano after a concert to look for "tricks." His sense of harmony was also unparalleled. Here he's matched with some of the greatest jazz artists of all time, who respond to his challenge in various ways. Eldridge and Webster basically stay out of his intricate way, sticking to the melody and emphasizing their tone; Carter is a bit bolder, Hamp uses some clever quotes, and Kessel is recorded more out in front, while DeFranco nearly matches his fluency in "Deep Night."
"Just One of Those Things" is the only trio track – and the CD's highlight. Tatum, unrestrained by the presence of another chordal player, goes all over the place in that immaculate way of his; his double-handed runs at this brisk tempo are nothing less than astonishing in their clarity and light.
This CD is a fascinating document, highly recommended for both fans and newcomers to Tatum's unique genius.
Track Listing: Perdido, Memories of You, You Took Advantage of Me, All The Things You Are, Body and Soul,
Under a Blanket of Blue, The Moon is Low, Just One of Those Things, Street of Dreams, Somebody
Loves Me, My Ideal, Deep Night
Personnel: Art Tatum (piano), Lionel Hampton (vibes), Roy Eldridge, Harry "Sweets" Edison (trumpet), Ben
Webster (tenor sax), Benny Carter (alto sax), Barney Kessel (guitar), Red Callender, John Simmons
(bass), Buddy Rich, Alvin Stoller, Jo Jones, Bill Douglass, Louis Bellson (drums)
Author of "The Insanity Hoax: Exposing the myth of the mad genius," Dr. J combines her love of jazz and her fascination with psychology, focusing on where they overlap: in celebrating the individual spirit.