MCA's short-lived Decca CD-reissue program put out this gem, all of Tatum's piano solos from 1940, including two versions of the previously unknown "Sweet Emalina, My Gal." Some of the routines on these standards were a bit familiar by now (this "Tiger Rag" pales next to his 1933 version) but are no less exciting and still sound seemingly impossible to play.
The complete original LP More of the Greatest Piano of Them All (Verve MGV-8347), showcasing the brilliant pianist unaccompanied. This album, which includes original liner notes by André Previn, was part of the marathon sessions jazz producer Norman Granz planned for Tatum, who at that time was seriously ill and neglected by record companies due to stylistic changes in the music industry. He would die on November 5, 1956 at the age of 47. As a bonus, we have added the complete album Still More of the Greatest Piano of Them All (Verve MGV-8360), which includes original liner notes by Teddy Wilson, plus one extra track, all recorded during the same sessions.
During four marathon recording sessions in 1953-55, Norman Granz recorded Art Tatum playing 119 standards, enough music for a dozen LPs. The results have been recently reissued separately on eight CDs and on this very full seven-CD box set. Frankly, Tatum did no real advance preparation for this massive project, sticking mosty to concise melodic variations of standards, some of them virtual set pieces formed over the past two decades. Since there are few uptempo performances, the music in this series has a certain sameness after awhile but, heard in small doses, it is quite enjoyable. A special bonus on this box (and not on the individual volumes) are four numbers taken from a 1956 Hollywood Bowl concert.
This release contains the complete original quartet session showcasing the brilliant Art Tatum with clarinet player Buddy DeFranco, plus Red Callender on bass, and Bill Douglass on drums. It was the only collaborative recording date by Tatum and DeFranco. The master takes were originally issued as The Art Tatum-Buddy DeFranco Quartet on Verve MGV-8213. For this edition, it was added all three existing alternate takes, as well as unaccompanied piano versions by Tatum of three of the album's tunes. This music constitutes one of the various pairings of Tatum with other jazz greats produced by Norman Granz in the last years of the pianist's life. Tatum was seriously ill at that time and neglected by record companies due to stylistic changes in the music industry. He would die on November 5, 1956 at the age of 47.
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…