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Complete Solo Masterpieces
Art Tatum
Complete Solo Masterpieces
Genres: Jazz, Pop
  •  Track Listings (18) - Disc #1
  •  Track Listings (17) - Disc #2
  •  Track Listings (16) - Disc #3
  •  Track Listings (18) - Disc #4
  •  Track Listings (15) - Disc #5
  •  Track Listings (20) - Disc #6
  •  Track Listings (21) - Disc #7

This box set is a stunner: the ultimate Art Tatum collection. Virtually every well-known jazz composition is included, as well as many of the show-stopping ballads of Rogers and Hart, Jerome Kern, and the Gershwins, all pl...  more »


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CD Details

All Artists: Art Tatum
Title: Complete Solo Masterpieces
Members Wishing: 3
Total Copies: 0
Label: Pablo
Release Date: 11/22/1991
Album Type: Box set
Genres: Jazz, Pop
Styles: Swing Jazz, Traditional Jazz & Ragtime
Number of Discs: 7
SwapaCD Credits: 7
UPC: 025218440424

This box set is a stunner: the ultimate Art Tatum collection. Virtually every well-known jazz composition is included, as well as many of the show-stopping ballads of Rogers and Hart, Jerome Kern, and the Gershwins, all played in Tatum's lavish, swinging style. While a box set of this size is almost impossible to cover in brief, it reaches a peak for stride piano enthusiasts with "Taboo," which reeks of 1920s Harlem rent parties. In addition, the last two choruses freely reveal the Thomas "Fats" Waller image so loved and adopted by Tatum. Aside from the bustling all-over-the-keyboard Tatum, there's an immeasurable tender side to him, as well. He plays the ballad "My Last Affair" in the silken, smooth rhythm that so distinguished his style, a style and technique never equaled in its sophistication and brilliance. It is virtually impossible to select a more impressive jazz and swing piano treasure for the neophyte or seasoned collector. Historians note that Norman Granz, the original promoter of the Tatum series, recorded the pianist in a sort of musical Napoleonic charge to get every selection down on wax for the ages. It was as if Granz knew that Tatum would be dead in 1956, three years after the first of these recordings. --Daniel Bartlett Jr.

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CD Reviews

Greatest pianist who ever lived
Ricard Giner ( | Brighton, UK | 06/02/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)

"The history of jazz piano after Ferdinand "Jelly Roll" Morton -Earl Hines, Thelonious Monk, Bud Powell, Al Haig, Herbie Nichols, Bill Evans, Oscar Peterson, Cecil Taylor, Herbie Hancock, McCoy Tyner, Keith Jarrett- is an orphan without Art Tatum. Tatum was the greatest piano player jazz ever produced.His weakness for sentimental standards became immaterial in the light of his phenomenal technique and seemingly infinite capacity for intricate improvisation. He would explore all the imaginable ramifications of a simple idea with flamboyance, and then delicately embellish them with elaborate ornaments. The sheer density of his notes led cynics to regard his playing as excessive and the result of an overdeveloped formula, and sceptics to doubt everything they were told until they saw him perform.Tatum's first recording of "Tiger Rag" in 1933 completely subverted the song's original rhythmic structure, introduced new harmonies, and built complex ornaments around the melody... at twice the original tempo. Stéphane Grapelli heard the song in France in the year of its release and asked who the "pianists" were; the record dealer told him "Art" and "Tintin". Toscanini was once an hour late to his own performance in New York because he was stupefied listening to Tatum in a club.Tatum was a gregarious introvert and an alcoholic. He spent almost all his time in the company of others, playing in small clubs until the early hours of the morning. Norman Granz had the insight in the early fifties to record Tatum in a series of group settings and on his own. The seven discs that make up the Pablo solo recordings contain some of the most astonishing piano playing anyone is ever likely to hear. And some of the most beautiful."
A genius in bondage but still a genius
madamemusico | Cincinnati, Ohio USA | 08/20/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Arthur Tatum, 1910-1956, was far and away the most talented, visionary pianist of his time, possessor of a fabled technique that allowed him to use both hands independently of each other, a beautiful touch that brought out the most lovely tone from any piano he played. Pianists as diverse in background and musical styles as Earl Hines, Fats Waller, Vladimir Horowitz and Josef Hoffmann admired his technique. But Tatum himself was always bitter about the fact that a player of his prodigious gifts had to "waste his talent" playing jazz. He wanted more than anything else in the world to be a top classical pianist.

Unfortunately, such doors were closed to him in his lifetime, but Tatum made up for his lack of opportunity by honing his improvisatory talent, an awesome natural gift that he raised to the level of high art. He was often cited as the greatest improvising pianist since the days of Thalberg and Liszt, in the 19th century. The down side was that, in order to achieve any sort of popularity, Tatum had to confine his prodigious gift to the popular songs of his day, rather than create his own music.

The results of this odd fusion are heard in this massive collection, spanning three years and some 12 hours of music. It is the greatest testament to a musical genius within the jazz idiom ever attempted, or accomplished, in the entire history of the music. And if at times the basic material seems inferior or of a lesser quality, Tatum redeems it by fractioning the time, rewriting the harmonic base, and then improvising baroque fantasies above it. Listening to such a rich feast of complex improvisation, however, is a strain on the mind of even the most informed and sensitive listener. Six or seven tracks at a time is about the limit one can listen to before becoming somewhat overloaded, but with such a rich feast here that is not a problem.

Norman Granz, the jazz promoter who created the circus-like "Jazz at the Philharmonic" concerts, was the original producer for these albums, which first appeared on his own Clef label and then were sold to Verve (which became Pablo). He is to be commended for spending a great deal of his own money on extensive recording sessions with Tatum over a four-year period (1953-56) that certainly could not have sold that many copies to the general public at that time. This set, like many classical albums, was built to sell slowly over a long period of years, not quickly and then forgotten. It has certainly done so, and in my opinion this set will still be selling 100 years from now. Genius is genius. I can't think of any single classical performer whose complete recordings I would want to own (though Toscanini comes close at about 80%), but Tatum and Django Reinhardt's recordings are awesome souvenirs of brilliant musical minds that moved even the greatest of the great.
Masterpieces is right.
Ricard Giner ( | 06/26/1998
(5 out of 5 stars)

"These recordings are remarkable. Art Tatum's mastery of many styles is awe inspiring. I remember my father, who was a pianist, saying that he wanted to cut his hands off every time he heard Art Tatum. Mr. Tatum is one of those rare artist who truly transcends his instrument. It seems like he can do anything he wants to, and he wants to do a lot. I would like to warn prospective buyers, though. These recordings are not the kind that you can just put on as background music (although why anyone does that I'm not sure). This music DEMANDS your attention. It is very dense and the musical references fly fast and furious. Sometimes I think that the music would improve with some simplification, but then I listen a few more times and I get more out of it. This is not for the faint of ear."