He was an innovator in reharmonizing melodies by changing the supporting chord progressions or by altering the root movements of a piece. This technique casts a familiar theme in a fresh light and gives the music an unexpected quality.
Many of his harmonic concepts and larger chord voicings e. He worked some of the upper extensions of chords into his lines, a practice which was further developed by Bud Powell and Charlie Parker , which in turn was an influence on the development of 'modern jazz'. Tatum also pioneered the use of dissonance in jazz piano, as can be heard, for example, on his recording of "Aunt Hagar's Blues",  which uses extensive dissonance to achieve a bluesy effect.
In addition to using major and minor seconds, dissonance was inherent in the complex chords that Tatum frequently used. Tatum could also play the blues with authority.
Pianist Jay McShann , not known for showering compliments on his rivals said "Art could really play the blues. To me, he was the world's greatest blues player, and I think few people realized that.
His protean style was elaborate, pyrotechnic, dramatic and joyous, combining stride, jazz, swing, boogie-woogie and classical elements, while the musical ideas flowed in rapid-fire fashion. Benny Green wrote in his collected work of essays, The Reluctant Art , that "Tatum has been the only jazz musician to date who has made an attempt to conceive a style based upon all styles, to master the mannerisms of all schools and then synthesize those into something personal.
Tatum was not inclined toward understatement or expansive use of space. He seldom played in a simplified way, preferring interpretations that displayed his great technique and clever harmonizations. When jazz pianist Stanley Cowell was growing up in Toledo, his father prevailed upon Tatum to play piano at the Cowell home. Stanley described the scene as, "Tatum played so brilliantly and so much.
My mother left the room. Template:'"  A handful of critics, notably Keith Jarrett , have complained that Tatum played too many notes  or was too ornamental or was even 'unjazzlike'. Jazz critic Gary Giddins opined, "That is the essence of Tatum.
If you don't like his ornament, you should be listening to someone else. That's where his genius is. From the foundation of stride, Tatum made great leaps forward in technique and harmony and he honed a groundbreaking improvisational style that extended the limits of what was possible in jazz piano.
One of Tatum's innovations was his extensive use of the pentatonic scale , which may have inspired later pianists to further mine its possibilities as a device for soloing. Herbie Hancock described Tatum's unique tone as "majestic" and devoted some time to unlocking this sound and to noting Tatum's harmonic arsenal.
The sounds that Tatum produced with the piano were also distinctive. Billy Taylor has said that he could make a bad piano sound good. He used the sustain pedal sparingly so that each note was clearly articulated, chords were cleanly sounded and the melodic line would not be blurred. Critic Gunther Schuller declared, "On one point there is universal agreement: Tatum's awesome technique.
He did not indulge in theatrical physical or facial expression. The effortless gliding of his hands over difficult passages puzzled most who witnessed the phenomenon. He especially mystified other pianists to whom Tatum appeared to be "playing the impossible. It was deceptive. Using self-taught fingering, including an array of two-fingered runs, he executed the pyrotechnics with meticulous accuracy and timing. His execution was all the more remarkable considering that he drank prodigious amounts of alcohol when performing,  yet his recordings are never sloppy.
Early in his career he was required to restrain himself when he worked as accompanist for vocalist Adelaide Hall in — Perhaps because Tatum believed there was a limited audience for solo piano, he formed a trio in with guitarist Tiny Grimes and bassist Slam Stewart.
Mainstream jazz piano has gone in a different direction from that pioneered by Tatum. Nevertheless, transcriptions of Tatum are popular and are often practiced assiduously. Although Bud Powell was of the bebop movement, his prolific and exciting style showed Tatum influence. Tatum recorded commercially from until near his death. Although recording opportunities were somewhat intermittent for most of his career due to his solo style, he left copious recordings.
Tatum demonstrated remarkable memory when he recorded 68 solo tracks for Granz in two days, all but three of the tracks in one take. Numerous stories exist about other musicians' respect for Tatum. Charlie Parker who helped develop bebop was highly influenced by Tatum. When newly arrived in New York, Parker briefly worked as a dishwasher in a Manhattan restaurant where Tatum was performing and often listened to the pianist.
Parker once said, "I wish I could play like Tatum's right hand! When Oscar Peterson was still a boy, his father played him a recording of Tatum performing "Tiger Rag". Once the young Peterson was finally persuaded that it was performed by a single person, he was so intimidated that he did not touch the piano for weeks. If I did, I'd throw up my hands and give up! If you put a piano in a room, just a bare piano.
Then you get all the finest jazz pianists in the world and let them play in the presence of Art Tatum. No audience was used for the selections, which included versions of "Tea for Two" and "Tiger Rag," in all likelihood similar to the performances Tatum used to best both Fats Waller and James P. Of major interest is the greatly improved fidelity of the re-creation of the concert.
Instead of using generations-old, flawed tapes that were descended from the original AFRS transcription disc, the MIDI file as played back on the Yamaha Disklavier Pro concert grand piano seems closer to the essence of what Tatum 's original performance sounded like.
The complete restored "Gershwin Medley" courtesy of Tatum discographer Arnold Laubich , who owned a copy of the original performance removes for good the abrupt edit present between the opening and closing sections of "The Man I Love" on all earlier commercial issues. The uptempo showpieces are dazzling, including a romp through "How High the Moon" and "Yesterdays" which includes a surprising octave unison segment plus the strolling, bluesy take of "Willow Weep for Me.
The producers of this Art Tatum "re-performance" simultaneously recorded the playback in two different ways. The first 13 cuts on the CD were recorded to five tracks for a stereo surround version, to achieve ideal sound for listeners.
The music is duplicated in the second half of the CD, but it is in a binaural stereo version recorded two-track into a dummy head propped as if the listener is the pianist hearing the instrument as he or she is performing. Listening to the binaural recordings on headphones gives an intimate perspective, with the applause heard mostly in the right channel and the auditorium air conditioning audible in quieter passages.
This re-performance of classic recordings by Art Tatum will likely be controversial for some collectors, who think that technology has destroyed the integrity of the pianist's performances. This CD doesn't replace Tatum 's Piano Starts Here in anyone's collection, but the greatly improved sound of Piano Starts Here: Live at the Shrine should be considered a marvelous engineering feat to give jazz fans a much better idea of what the late piano virtuoso sounded like in concert on a top-notch instrument.
Show Ignored Content. Share This Page. The Tatum Group Masterpieces, Volume 6. Ultimate Art Tatum. The V-Discs. Art Tatum's Finest Hour.
Over the Rainbow. The Definitive Art Tatum. Battery Bounce. Hall of Fame. Hold That Tiger! Piano Grand Master. Complete Pablo Solo Masterpieces Fine and Dandy.The piano keyboard may consist of 52 white keys and 36 black ones—but when it comes to selecting the best from among the hundreds of incredible jazz piano albums that have been recorded, there’s no black-and-white answer. Nevertheless, we’ve come up with a list of 10 essential jazz piano records.