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Art Tatum: Piano Grand Master

Mike Perciaccante By

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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 set, the Piano Grand Master, includes virtually every essential track from his prime.

Although seemingly overlooked by today's musicologists, Tatum was one of the most accomplished pianists of the first half of the 20th century. He was admired by both classical composers, jazz performers, old bluesmen and by the popular music audiences of his day. His playing was inventive and energetic; he could do it all. Though predominantly self-taught, Tatum was almost technically perfect. He could play with rapid-fire speed, creating the illusion of multiple piano players on a single track ("Tiger Rag," which is included on this set, is a perfect example of this type of playing). His ability to play multiple rhythms often created a sound that defied the imagination. His fresh creations (for lack of a better word) and ability to improvise, combined with his lightning fast hands, enabled his sound to reach far beyond his time and into the future. Simply stated, the nearly blind Tatum was a virtuoso.

The compilation includes recordings made with the Art Tatum Trio (which featured bassist Slam Stewart and Tiny Grimes on guitar), solo performances (which comprise the majority of the tracks), band performances featuring Big Joe Turner on vocals and a 1944 live jam session featuring Louis Armstrong, Coleman Hawkins and many others.

Released at a budget price, this box includes all of Tatum's best known solo works: "Tea for Two," a wonderful version of W.C. Handy's "St. Louis Blues," "Moonglow," "(I Would Do) Anything for You," "When a Woman Loves a Man," and "Stardust."

Superb tracks from the Art Tatum Band can also be found here. These include: "Stompin'' At The Savoy," "Wee Baby Blues ," "Lucille," "Rock Me, Mama," "Corrine Corrina" and "Lonesome Graveyard Blues."

Lastly, no Tatum compilation would be complete without the trio recordings. Piano Grand Master features some of the best of these sides: "Flying Home," "Dark Eyes," "Body and Soul and "I Know That You Know." Other highlights include: "Yesterdays," "Dancing In the Dark," "Liza," "Begin The Beguine" and many more too numerous to count. Whether each tune was a reworking of an old standard, a soon-to-be jump-blues classic, a new composition done by the trio, a popular jazz tune, or just a simple improvisation, Art Tatum was in a league by himself.

As with any Proper Box, Piano Grand Master includes a delightfully detailed and annotated booklet. The 44-page tome features a wealth of information, full discography details, a biography and wonderful illustrations/pictures. This is the definitive Tatum anthology!

Track Listing: 1. Tiger Rag (La Rocca) - 2:00 2. Tea for Two (Caesar/Youmans) - 3:14 3. St. Louis Blues (Handy) - 2:39 4. Tiger Rag (La Rocca) - 2:20 5. Sophisticated Lady (Ellington/Mills) - 3:17 6. Moonglow (De Lange/Hudson/Mills) - 2:42 7. I Would Do Anything for You (Hill/Hopkins/Williams) - 2:56 8. When a Woman Loves a Man (Hanighen/Jenkins/Mercer) - 3:03 9. Emaline (Parish/Perkins) - 2:38 10. Love Me (Washington/Young) - 2:56 11. Cocktails for Two (Coslow/Johnston) - 2:49 12. After You''ve Gone (Creamer/Layton) - 3:01 13. Stardust (Carmichael) - 3:17 14. Ill Wind (Arlen/Koehler) - 2:57 15. The Shout (Tatum) - 2:48 16. Beautiful Love (Gillespie/Young) - 3:14 17. Liza (Gershwin/Gershwin) - 2:58 18. I Ain''t Got Nobody (Graham/Williams) - 3:23 19. Stay as Sweet as You Are (Gordon/Ravel) - 2:41 20. I Wish I Were Twins (DeLange/Loesser/Meyer) - 2:20 21. Gone With the Wind (Magidson/Wrubel) - 2:52 22. Stormy Weather (Arlen/Koehler) - 3:13 23. Chloe (Kahn/Moret) - 3:26 24. The Sheik of Araby (Smith/Snyder/Wheeler) - 2:46 25. Tea for Two (Caesar/Youmans) - 2:38 26. Deep Purple (De Rose/Parish) - 3:18 27. It Had to Be You (Jones/Kahn) - 2:30 28. Oh, You Crazy Moon (Burke/Van Heusen) - 2:28 29. Over the Rainbow (Arlen/Harburg) - 3:51 30. Day in Day Out (Bloom/Mercer) - 3:30 31. All God''s Chillun Got Rhythm (Jurmann/Kahn/Kaper) - 1:58 32. Elegie (Massenet) - 3:17 33. Humoresque (Dvorak) - 3:06 34. Sweet Lorraine (Burwell/Parish) - 3:02 35. Get Happy (Arlen/Koehler) - 2:46 36. Lullaby of the Leaves (Petkere/Young) - 3:07 37. Tiger Rag (La Rocca) - 2:16 38. Sweet Emaline, My Gal (Creamer/Layton) - 3:00 39. Love Me (Washington/Young) - 2:44 40. Begin the Beguine (Porter) - 2:45 41. Rosetta (Hines/Woode) - 2:52 42. Indiana (Hanley/MacDonald) - 3:01 43. Wee Baby Blues performed by Tatum, Art And His Band - 2:54 44. Stompin'' at the Savoy performed by Tatum, Art And His Band - 3:15 45. Last Goodbye Blues performed by Tatum, Art And His Band - 3:13 46. Battery Bounce performed by Tatum, Art And His Band - 2:32 47. Lucillle performed by Tatum, Art And His Band - 3:26 48. Rock Me, Mama performed by Tatum, Art And His Band - 2:58 49. Corrine Corrina performed by Tatum, Art And His Band - 2:29 50. Lonesome Graveyard Blues performed by Tatum, Art And His Band - 3:12 51. I Got Rhythm (Gershwin/Gershwin) - 2:19 52. Mop, Mop (Hawkins) - 5:05 53. Esquire Bounce (Feather) - 2:04 54. My Ideal (Robin/Whiting) - 3:23 55. Exactly Like You performed by Tatum, Art Trio - 5:08 56. Flying Home performed by Tatum, Art Trio - 4:16 57. Dark Eyes performed by Tatum, Art Trio - 4:44 58. Body and Soul performed by Tatum, Art Trio - 4:39 59. I Know That You Know performed by Tatum, Art Trio - 4:21 60. Hallelujah (Grey/Robbins/Youmans) - 2:40 61. Yesterdays (Harbach/Kern) - 3:07 62. Tatum Pole Boogie (Tatum) - 2:25 63. Willow Weep for Me (Ronnell) - 2:54 64. I Cover the Waterfront (Green/Heyman) - 2:32 65. Aunt Hagar''s Blues (Handy) - 2:43 66. Nice Work if You Can Get It (Gershwin/Gershwin) - 2:48 67. Someone to Watch Over Me (Gershwin/Gershwin) - 2:50 68. Dardanella (Bernard/Black/Fisher) - 2:50 69. Time on My Hands (Adamson/Gordon/Youmans) - 3:05 70. Sweet Lorraine (Burwell/Parish) - 2:39 71. Somebody Loves Me (DeSylva/Gershwin) - 2:46 72. Don''t Blame Me (Fields/McHugh) - 2:55 73. My Heat Stood Still (Hart/Rodgers) - 3:10 74. You Took Advantage of Me (Hart/Rodgers) - 3:15 75. I Gotta Right to Sing the Blues (Arlen/Koehler) - 2:55 76. Goin'' Home (Dvorak) - 3:10 77. Blue Skies (Berlin) - 2:52 78. It''s the Talk of the Town (Livingston/Neiburg/Symes) - 3:21 79. Dancing in the Dark (Dietz/Schwartz) - 2:57 80. Wrap Your Troubles in Dreams (Barris/Koehler/Moll) - 3:01 81. Just-A-Sittin'' and A-Rockin'' (Ellington/Gaines/Strayhorn) - 2:47 82. You''re Driving Me Crazy (Donaldson) - 2:25 83. In a Sentimental Mood (Ellington/Mills) - 3:21 84. She''s Funny That Way (Moret/Whiting) - 2:58 85. I''ll Never Be the Same (Kahn/Malneck/Signorelli) - 3:25 86. Night and Day (Porter) - 3:30 87. It''s Only a Paper Moon (Arlen/Harburg/Rose) - 2:53 88. Three Little Words (Kalmar/Ruby) - 2:24 89. On the Sunny Side of the Street (Fields/McHugh) - 2:37 90. Why Was I Born? (Hammerstein/Kern) - 2:45 91. If I Could Be With You (One Hour Tonight) (Creamer/Johnson) - 2:47 92. Mean to Me (Ahlert/Turk) - 2:42 93. I Guess I Have to Change My Plans (Dietz/Schwartz) - 2:26 94. Can''t We Be Friends? (James/Swift) - 2:34 95. What Is This Thing Called Love? (Porter) - 2:36 96. Crazy Rhythm (Caesar/Kahn/Meyer) - 2:20 97. Limehouse Blues (Braham/Furber) - 2:24 98. I''m Coming Virginia (Cook/Heyward) - 2:46 99. The Man I Love performed by Tatum, Art Trio - 5:03

Personnel: Art Tatum - Piano, Al Casey - Guitar, Roy Eldridge - Trumpet, Tiny Grimes - Guitar, Oscar Pettiford - Bass, Slam Stewart - Bass, Jack Teagarden - Trombone, Edmond Hall - Clarinet, Coleman Hawkins - Tenor Saxophone, Louis Armstrong - Trumpet, Everett Barksdale - Guitar, Barney Bigard - Drums, Big Sid Catlett - Drums, John Collins - Guitar, Eddie Dougherty - Drums, Yank Porter - Drums, Joe Thomas - Trumpet, Joe Turner - Vocals, Billy Taylor - Bass.

Title: Piano Grand Master | Year Released: 2003 | Record Label: Proper Records


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