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The Complete Pablo Solo Masterpieces (2nd Edition) Box set, Best of
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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.
Top Customer Reviews
More specifically, in regard to jazz, Tatum is at once both its Bach AND its Beethoven, in the sense that his music not only subsumes, like Bach, all of the major musical styles that came before him; he also, like Beethoven, revolutionarily anticipates, without being surpassed by, all of the major styles that came in his wake.
Sadly, owing to the blindness and stupidity of jazz critics, whether African-American or otherwise, Tatum's gargantuan achievement (which transcends, it goes without saying, the mealy-mouthed contingencies of whichever political faction you happen to uphold) is probably never going to be given its due accord in music history, through no fault of his own. Fortunately, for those of us who love art enough to put aside our political differences, Tatum's recorded legacy stands among the grand artistic achievements of mankind.
So, all I can say is this: if you happen to care about great music, get this collection while it's still available, and enjoy the living hell out of it while you can. Because, as far as I can see, there are so many humorless pedants out there right now, that I can easily conceive of a future in which something as essential as Tatum's SOLO MASTERPIECES might very well be hard to come by.
His weakness for sentimental standards became immaterial in the light of his phenomenal technique and seemingly infinite capacity for intricate improvisation. He would explore all the imaginable ramifications of a simple idea with flamboyance, and then delicately embellish them with elaborate ornaments. The sheer density of his notes led cynics to regard his playing as excessive and the result of an overdeveloped formula, and sceptics to doubt everything they were told until they saw him perform.
Tatum's first recording of "Tiger Rag" in 1933 completely subverted the song's original rhythmic structure, introduced new harmonies, and built complex ornaments around the melody... at twice the original tempo. Stéphane Grapelli heard the song in France in the year of its release and asked who the "pianists" were; the record dealer told him "Art" and "Tintin". Toscanini was once an hour late to his own performance in New York because he was stupefied listening to Tatum in a club.
Tatum was a gregarious introvert and an alcoholic. He spent almost all his time in the company of others, playing in small clubs until the early hours of the morning. Norman Granz had the insight in the early fifties to record Tatum in a series of group settings and on his own. The seven discs that make up the Pablo solo recordings contain some of the most astonishing piano playing anyone is ever likely to hear. And some of the most beautiful.
Most recent customer reviews
hearing Art Tatum ringing up the keyboard is a must have.this set captures his genius& displays his many different styles of playing. Read morePublished on Feb. 1 2000 by MAXIMILLIAN MUHAMMAD
I discovered the Art Tatum solo piano sessions while a DJ in college 20 years ago, and I've been playing them pretty much constantly since. Read morePublished on Feb. 6 1999