I’ve spent the past two days listening to Art Tatum (with a break last night for Michael Jackson via This Is It, which was entertaining, vastly more tasteful than I anticipated, and left me with a fresh appreciation for his music).
Tatum was a solo jazz pianist, more popular with other musicians than with audiences for his fanciful improvisations over popular and Broadway standards. I picked up both volumes of his “At the Crescendo” in Denver back a couple months ago, which was recorded live in 1950 at Gene Norman’s club in L.A.
This quote from the back cover of volume two says it better than I ever could:
“He is always breaking up beautiful lines into amazing acrobatics, breaking up those acrobatics into a tender note, breaking up a tender note into a violent rhythmic approach … Tatum tried to avoid known and accepted patterns of improvising in a continuous fight against the mediocrity of the popular melodies he used.” – Rudy Koopmans, co-editor of “Jazzworld”