A lucky seven CDs, over 200 tracks in the order they were recorded by the marvelous Art Tatum during the famous 1953-1955 Pablo sessions produced by Norman Granz, plus a previously unissued Hollywood Bowl concert from '56! Pure solo brilliance!
This box set is a stunner: the ultimate Art Tatum collection. Virtually every well-known jazz composition is included, as well as many of the show-stopping ballads of Rogers and Hart, Jerome Kern, and the Gershwins, all played in Tatum's lavish, swinging style. While a box set of this size is almost impossible to cover in brief, it reaches a peak for stride piano enthusiasts with "Taboo," which reeks of 1920s Harlem rent parties. In addition, the last two choruses freely reveal the Thomas "Fats" Waller image so loved and adopted by Tatum. Aside from the bustling all-over-the-keyboard Tatum, there's an immeasurable tender side to him, as well. He plays the ballad "My Last Affair" in the silken, smooth rhythm that so distinguished his style, a style and technique never equaled in its sophistication and brilliance. It is virtually impossible to select a more impressive jazz and swing piano treasure for the neophyte or seasoned collector. Historians note that Norman Granz, the original promoter of the Tatum series, recorded the pianist in a sort of musical Napoleonic charge to get every selection down on wax for the ages. It was as if Granz knew that Tatum would be dead in 1956, three years after the first of these recordings. --Daniel Bartlett Jr.