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October 13, 1909 – November 5, 1956
A giant of the piano, not only in jazz, but for all time.
His technical skill and improvisational ability were and remain to this day untouchable by any mere mortal.
He was bling from birth and at the age of three was already pecking out church hymns on the family piano.
As a teenager, he has his own radio show in his home town of Toledo and traveling musicians like Duke Ellington, Louis Armstrong, Joe Turner and Fletcher Henderson would drop in when they were in town, thunderstruck to see him play
Tatum was inspired by James P. Johnson and Fats Waller.
His music in turn had a massive influence on pianists like Thelonious Monk, Bud Powell, Chick Corea, and Oscar Peterson.
When young Charlie Parker first hit New York, he got a job as a dishwasher at the club where Tatum played the better to study Tatum's harmonic inventions.
-( Born October 13, 1909 – November 5, 1956) was an American jazz pianist and virtuoso who played with phenomenal facility despite being nearly blind from birth.
Tatum is widely acknowledged as the greatest jazz pianist of all time, and he was a major influence on later generations of jazz pianists. He was hailed for the technical proficiency of his performances, which set a new standard for jazz piano virtuosity. Critic Scott Yanow wrote, "Tatum's quick reflexes and boundless imagination kept his improvisations filled with fresh (and sometimes futuristic) ideas that put him way ahead of his contemporaries.
-Arthur “Art” Tatum Jr. (pianist) was born on October 13, 1909 in Toledo, Ohio and passed away on Novemeber 15, 1956 in Los Angeles, California.
Tatum was born in Toledo, Ohio. His father, Arthur Tatum, Sr., was a guitarist and an elder at Grace Presbyterian Church, where his mother, Mildred Hoskins, played piano. He had two siblings, Karl and Arlene. From infancy he suffered from cataracts, which left him blind in one eye and with only very limited vision in the other. A number of surgical procedures improved his eye condition to a degree but some of the benefits were reversed when he was assaulted in 1930 at age 20.
A child prodigy with perfect pitch, Tatum learned to play by ear, picking out church hymns by the age of three, learning tunes from the radio and copying piano roll recordings his mother owned. In a Voice of America interview, he denied the widespread rumor that he learned to play by copying piano roll recordings made by two pianists. He developed an incredibly fast playing style, without losing accuracy. As a child he was also very sensitive to the piano’s intonation and insisted it be tuned often. While playing piano was the most obvious application of his mental and physical skills, he also had an encyclopedic memory for Major League Baseball statistics.
In 1925, Tatum moved to the Columbus School for the Blind, where he studied music and learned braille. Subsequently, he studied piano with Overton G. Rainey was also visually impaired, and likely taught Tatum in the classical tradition, as Rainey did not improvise and discouraged his students from playing jazz.In 1927, Tatum began playing on Toledo radio station WSPD as ‘Arthur Tatum, Toledo’s Blind Pianist’, during interludes in Ellen Kay’s shopping chat program and soon had his own program. By the age of 19, Tatum was playing at the local Waiters’ and Bellmens’ Club. As word of Tatum spread, national performers passing through Toledo, including Duke Ellington, Louis Armstrong, Joe Turner and Fletcher Henderson, would make it a point to drop in to hear the piano phenomenon.
-Art Tatum was among the most extraordinary of all jazz musicians, a pianist with wondrous technique who could not only play ridiculously rapid lines with both hands (his 1933 solo version of "Tiger Rag" sounds as if there were three pianists jamming together) but was harmonically 30 years ahead of his time; all pianists have to deal to a certain extent with Tatum's innovations in order to be taken seriously. Able to play stride, swing, and boogie-woogie with speed and complexity that could only previously be imagined, Tatum's quick reflexes and boundless imagination kept his improvisations filled with fresh (and sometimes futuristic) ideas that put him way ahead of his contemporaries.
Born nearly blind, Tatum gained some formal piano training at the Toledo School of Music but was largely self-taught. Although influenced a bit by Fats Waller and the semi-classical pianists of the 1920s, there is really no explanation for where Tatum gained his inspiration and ideas from. He first played professionally in Toledo in the mid-'20s and had a radio show during 1929-1930. In 1932 Tatum traveled with singer Adelaide Hall to New York and made his recording debut accompanying Hall (as one of two pianists). But for those who had never heard him in person, it was his solos of 1933 (including "Tiger Rag") that announced the arrival of a truly major talent. In the 1930s, Tatum spent periods working in Cleveland, Chicago, New York, Los Angeles, and (in 1938) England. Although he led a popular trio with guitarist Tiny Grimes (later Everett Barksdale) and bassist Slam Stewart in the mid-'40s, Tatum spent most of his life as a solo pianist who could always scare the competition. Some observers criticized him for having too much technique (is such a thing possible?), working out and then keeping the same arrangements for particular songs, and for using too many notes, but those minor reservations pale when compared to Tatum's reworkings of such tunes as "Yesterdays," "Begin the Beguine," and even "Humoresque." Although he was not a composer, Tatum's rearrangements of standards made even warhorses sound like new compositions.
Art Tatum, who recorded for Decca throughout the 1930s and Capitol in the late '40s, starred at the Esquire Metropolitan Opera House concert of 1944 and appeared briefly in his only film in 1947, The Fabulous Dorseys (leading a jam session on a heated blues). He recorded extensively for Norman Granz near the end of his life in the 1950s, both solo and with all-star groups; all of the music has been reissued by Pablo on a six-CD box set. His premature death from uremia has not resulted in any loss of fame, for Art Tatum's recordings still have the ability to scare modern pianists.
-Art Tatum (Arthur Tatum, Jr., October 13, 1909, Toledo, Ohio, USA - November 5, 1956, Los Angeles, California) was an American jazz pianist and virtuoso who played with phenomenal facility despite being nearly blind since birth.
Tatum is widely acknowledged as one of the greatest jazz pianists of all time. He was noted for the complexity and speed of his performances, which set a new standard for jazz piano virtuosity.
Tatum drew inspiration from his contemporaries James P. Johnson and Fats Waller, and had a great influence on other famous jazz pianists, such as Thelonious Monk, Bud Powell, Chick Corea, and Oscar Peterson. Saxophonist Charlie Parker took his first job in New York as a dishwasher where Tatum played, just for the experience of hearing Tatum’s harmonic inventions.
Tatum identified Fats Waller as his main influence, but according to pianist Teddy Wilson and saxophonist Eddie Barefield, “Art Tatum’s favorite jazz piano player was Earl Hines. He used to buy all of Earl’s records and would improvise on them. He’d play the record but he’d improvise over what Earl was doing … ‘course, when you heard Art play you didn’t hear nothing of anybody but Art. But he got his ideas from Earl’s style of playing – but Earl never knew that.”
A major event in his meteoric rise to success was his appearance at a cutting contest in 1933 at Morgan’s bar in New York City that included Waller, Johnson and Willie “The Lion” Smith.
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