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on October 14, 2011
The title says it all - nobody can play the piano like Art Tatum. Not only an innovator, his combination of effortless style and unparalleled technicality and speed makes him, in my opinion, unmatched. Even the great Fats Waller was in awe of this man. Ignore the sound quality (and coughing guy) and bask in sheer piano mastery.
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VINE VOICEon February 3, 2010
Art Tatum's Jazz Piano Genius left other musicians awestruck. The great Teddy Wilson, who played with Louis Armstrong, Benny Goodman and Ella Fitzgerald (and can be seen playing himself in the film "The Benny Goodman Story") said of Tatum: "Maybe this will explain Art Tatum. 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. Then let Art Tatum play ... everyone there will sound like an amateur."

Tatum's technique and understanding of music simply transcended other musicians of any genre. He took tunes apart and reconstructed them with alternative chord progressions and rhythms that made old standards sound like exciting new compositions. His lightning-fast technique and tempos made it difficult for even the most accomplished musicians to keep up with him. Buddy DeFranco said that playing with Tatum was "like chasing a train."

It is therefore perhaps in his solo recordings that Art Tatums genius appears most glorious, and this collection, recorded at private parties on two separate evenings in 1950 and 1955, gives us an intimate seat in the presence of a true giant.

We get 39 separate cuts on two discs, and while Tatum's playing speaks for itself, we can often hear the disbelieving response of those lucky few who were there that night. A few tunes such as "Sweet Loraine" and "Body and Soul" were repeated five years apart, and rather than being repetitive a listen will give a glimpse into the fluidity of Tatum's genius.

This recording is a marvel.
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on January 28, 2012
I got my Art Tatum " 20th Century Piano Genius " 2 CD set in the mail this morning. I've been listening to them for the last 3 hours while I nail the most difficult of Sudoku puzzles one after another. I'm supposed to be at work tomorrow morning at 0600, but I cannot put up the CD's. They're a compilation of 2 seperate jam sessions done in April 1950 and July 1955 in some music producer's home in California. They're noticeably the very best jazz piano I've ever heard and every song is awesome, some beyond belief. I cannot imagine anyone duplicating or matching them. It defines why Art is still considered the greatest of all time by contemporary jazz pianists. I wish grade schools could play these in music classes so that children of all ages could get exposure to what the very best ever sounds like.
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on June 17, 2012
What else is there to say about AT? I have a bunch of his recorded material and this rises to the Top 3 of all of them! It was so rare to hear AT recorded in an informal setting, this set is an absolute joy. AT had the ability to almost slice time into infinite sections. His grace notes leading into and out of a phrase just takes my breath away. But besides slicing time he had an ability to play fast when he wanted to; the famous rendition of "Tiger Rag" made pianists like Hank Jones and others think there was two pianists instead of one!

Besides this set you need the AT Solo Masterpiece set of 7 full CD's. In particular the cut of "Just the Way You Look Tonight" is 7 minutes of piano heaven. It is a clinic of styles beginning with stride and goes on from there.

JJP
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on February 21, 2013
I don't know how I got to the point I am in life without having already been exposed to Art Tatum. Listening to this album was like a revelation for me. I am not especially fond of jazz, but this transcends the genre. It is truly legendary piano music. Very expressively done, and enjoyable.
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on August 1, 2015
Art Tatum was a brilliant, perhaps technically unequalled jazz pianist. However, his music doesn't always provide (me) enjoyable listening. There's too much flash, filigree, and ornamentation for my taste. He's a great listen when you think you're getting good -- he'll straighten you out.
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on June 23, 2014
Doesn't get any better than this. If you wonder why Art Tatum is regarded as the best ever, just listen to these two CDs.
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on April 3, 2007
Well, DG, it's always good to spark a discussion. Tatum's playing is very intricate and dense with notes; it is not a cool, swinging sound. I think it is beyond dispute that Tatum was one of the most technically proficient pianists who ever lived. The question is then, does all that staggering virtuosity serve a purpose? For some, hearing somebody play what almost nobody else can play is enough to justify the purchase. For others, myself included, it is beautiful music as well. For me that is an intuitive reaction-- it sounds musical and organic to me, but I am not trained to understand structural and harmonic nuance. I think DG represents a small minority of people who believe that Tatum's playing is not sophisticated or musically nuanced. I would not want a steady diet of this, but on the right day it is perfect.
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on February 9, 2009
After hearing this CD, it is easy to see why both jazz and classical artists were amazed by Tatum's way with rhythm, harmony and counterpoint. The recordings on these discs are casual, recorded at a home, and his joy shines thourgh.
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on September 22, 2008
Art Tatum's virtuosity served his eloquent musical vision which comes across so well on 20th Century Piano Genius.
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