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Norman Granz and Verve Records (1944 - 1962)

Read "Norman Granz and Verve Records (1944 - 1962)" reviewed by Russell Perry

In July 2, 1944, Norman Granz, a jazz fan and small-time LA promoter staged a concert in the Philharmonic Auditorium with $300 of borrowed money. His “Jazz at the Philharmonic" concerts were hugely successful and became tours that ran until 1957. These tours and the record labels they spawned—Clef, Norgran and especially Verve—became home to many of the great players of the 1950s, often mainstream players who had a lot of music left to play, but were not necessarily at ...

ALBUM REVIEWS

Art Tatum: Trio Days

Read "Trio Days" reviewed by Marc Davis

I was wrong. I like Art Tatum. But in a slightly different way. My introduction to Art Tatum, many years ago, was a series of solo piano albums. They left me cold. No question, the man was gifted beyond belief. He could play faster, more accurately and with a greater sense of fun and originality than almost any pianist between Fats Waller and Thelonious Monk. And yet his solo work never felt right to me. Something ...

REASSESSING

Art Tatum: Solo Masterpieces, Volume One

Read "Art Tatum: Solo Masterpieces, Volume One" reviewed by C. Michael Bailey

Art TatumSolo Masterpieces, Volume OneOJC1975/2013 If blues icon Robert Johnson is a phantom, then pianist Art Tatum is a myth. In spite of James Lester's 1995 biography Too Marvelous For Words: The Life and Genius of Art Tatum (Oxford University Press, 1995), little is known of Tatum, whose piano talent has yet to be equaled more than fifty years after his death. It is acknowledged by more than one authority that ...

NEW YORK BEAT

Art Tatum Goes To College

Read "Art Tatum Goes To College" reviewed by Nick Catalano

After teaching jazz studies at my university for over 30 years, I have amended many original pedagogical goals and done a great deal of revisionist thinking. Although some of my students are part-time musicians, mostly with perfunctory training, most of them like the pop music of the day and take my course because they have heard that jazz music might be “cool." The course is taught chronologically, and it is always gratifying to see them respond enthusiastically ...

ALBUM REVIEWS

Art Tatum: Piano Starts Here: Live at the Shrine

Read "Piano Starts Here: Live at the Shrine" reviewed by David Rickert

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 ...

ALBUM REVIEWS

Art Tatum: The Best of the Pablo Solo Masterpieces

Read "The Best of the Pablo Solo Masterpieces" reviewed by Dr. Judith Schlesinger

I have a dear friend, an accomplished jazz pianist, who used to attach the following tag to his e-mail: “I believe in God and Art Tatum — not necessarily in that order." I too appreciate Tatum's peerless mastery of keys and harmonies, his signature inventiveness, impeccable inner metronome, feathery runs, and pioneering ability to bridge the stride before him with the bop that lay ahead. But I can't take too much of him at one sitting, and I finally recognized ...

ALBUM REVIEWS

Art Tatum: Piano Grand Master

Read "Piano Grand Master" reviewed by Mike Perciaccante

Featuring 99 tracks in total, the Piano Grand Master box set is the finest Art Tatum collection ever assembled. UK-based Proper Records has delivered an appropriately titled four-disc set which presents itself as a career retrospective, but actually spans only Tatum's prime years (1932-1951). The only essential recordings missing from this set are the mid-'50s material done for Norman Granz. For those interested in the Granz works, those sides have previously been reissued by Pablo on a six-CD box. This ...

ALBUM REVIEWS

Art Tatum: The Best of the Complete Pablo Group Masterpieces

Read "The Best of the Complete Pablo Group Masterpieces" reviewed by Dr. Judith Schlesinger

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 ...


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