"In the early fourties,Jerry Newman,a student and jazz fan,made some incredible location recordings.At Minton's Playhouse,for example.He recorded,with his portable disc recording equipment,some of the stars,and young musicians, of that time:Tatum,Hot Lips Page,Harry Edison,Monk...
Of course, if you're an hifi addict,this record isn't made for you.The sound is not a great one.But this is a rare and important item in Art Tatum's career, and there are treasures of music and swing in this CD."Georgia on my mind","Beautiful love" and the wonderful "laughin' at life",so marvelously sung by Billie a few months before,were recorded November 11,1940;these are very short pieces in which Tatum's astonishing and awesome technique explodes.Nobody could play these extremely difficult phrases,and swing that way."Beautiful love" was rarely played in these years;later,it will become a part of Bill Evans repertoire,a tune he used to play with genius,from the fifties until his death."Laughin' at life" is magnificent,only one minute long;this tune gave Billie Holiday the opportunity to record a total masterpiece,with Lester Young,June 7,1940.
"Sweet Lorraine","fine and dandy" and "begin the beguine" were done on May 7,1941.It seems that "sweet Lorraine" allways fascinated the musicians;there are not many versions of this theme,but there are only masterpieces: Nat King Cole,Henry Red Allen,Earl Hines,and Tatum (many many times).Tatum's way of playing this theme is the essence of swing; there's a special beat here that drives me completely mad everytime I listen to Tatum playing "sweet Lorraine".Just pure genius."Fine and dandy",which will inspire Charlie Parker a few years later,is another extraordinary improvisation by Tatum.Who could swing like that,and play at the same time such terrific things ? Even the geniuses of classical music,Toscanini,Rachmaninoff,Rubinstein or Horowitz,who used to go to clubs to listen to him,said that they'd be totally unable to reproduce this music.How could a blind man play that way? He surely was the greatest piano player of the 20th century.To be sure of this,try "begin the beguine";it certainly will knock you out."mighty lak a rose","knocking myself out", "Toledo blues" (Tatum was born in Toledo,Ohio,October 1910)and "Body and soul" were recorded July 26,1941 at the Gee Haw Stables,West 132nd Street,NYC.After a rather classical introduction,Tatum goes into the tempo.The two following numbers includes Chocolate Williams on bass and vocal;and they are,to my knowledge,the only opportunities we have to listen to Art Tatum's singing.Two down home blues,tunes which could have been played by Roosevelt Sykes or Montana Taylor.Williams has the first vocal part on "knockin' myself out".Tatum plays outstanding phrases behind Williams' jive efforts."Toledo blues" is completely atypic in Tatum's career;he very rarely played the blues.And this one is a real,down home one;at the beginning,you'll rather think of Little Brother Montgomery than of Tatum.This is truly an extraordinary piece,and an exceptionnal one in Tatum's career.And he sings here just like a Saint Louis blues singer (remember Sykes,Henry Brown of StLouis Jimmy ???).This is an UNIQUE moment in this giant's life."Body and soul",another favorite of Tatum,is another very great piece.Recorded the next day at the same place,"there'll be some changes made" has nice vocals by Miss Ollie Potter,and masterful piano playing.Finally,"Lady be good" and "sweet Georgia Brown",recorded September 16,1941,allways at Monroe's Uptown House,are trio pieces;Ebenezer Paul plays bass,and the great Frankie Newton plays trumpet.Just listen to Tatum's comping behind Newton's solo: who else could have ever played these notes ??? Finally,"sweet Georgia Brown" is a seven minutes long masterpiece, introducing one of the most important trumpet players of the swing era,Frankie Newton (1906-1954).
There are such treasures in this album that you can't miss it,even if you have troubles with the sound quality.I know that Tatum's discography is important,and that there are several studio sessions with great sound,but here is an essential side of his career;these field recordings find him in top form,and I'm sure you'll love them."
A must have for Tatumites....
williedynamite | 10/25/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"God is in the house... Sounds like blasphemy doesn't it. But aftewr listening to this CD I have an idea what Fatts Waller meant when he said that one time when Art tatum walked into a room that God is in the house. God is in the house is another in a long line of re-released Art Tatum albums that pop up every year. But this one's special for two reasons 1. Because it focuses mainly on his more formative years 1940 2.... It's the music stupid. Art rules! Sorry about the hyperbolic statments.The music on God.. is from the early 1940 when Art Tatum was signed with Onyx records. It shows an Art Tatum at or near his creative peak. Listening to him on Mighty lak a rose where he starts out almost lazily and over the course of the tune changes tempo to al almost full swing. Thee's the Art tatum standars sweet Lorraine which once again sounds new here although i've heard it numerous times on other records. What really makes God.... such an interesting CD are the two vocal songs. Knock myself out and toledo blues Yep that's right Art tatum mot only plays on these tracks he sings. To my knowledge these are the only recordings of Art tatum singing. The liner notes are extensive and quite informative. In fact the liner notes were awarded a grammy's the liner notes and best jazz soloist. While the sound quality may be not be flawless it is quite good. There is the ever present hiss monster that is in many early 1940's Tatum recordings but the music outshines this drawback by a mile. A wonderful album and a must have for Tatumites."
jive rhapsodist | NYC, NY United States | 01/08/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The best Tatum CD, hands down. Fine and Dandy, the best Tatum solo. Sweet Georgia Brown and Lady Be Good, Tatum's best playing with another musician (Frankie Newton). Very little in his discography can match what is here. For pure swing, nothing can. He is the greatest - when he wants to be. If pyrotechnics are your thing, and you confuse them with music, there are many better choices. If yummy recording quality is your thing and you confuse THAT with music, plenty of choices there. If you want one of the greatest piano CD's imaginable, this is the one. And you still get all the perfectly played triplets you could ever want! Plus funkiness, which is in short supply in the rest of his oeuvre."
A different art tatum to the studio recordings of pablo
bryan catmull | melbourne, victoria Australia | 07/17/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
"this cd is for art tatum fans who would wish to see how tatum
evolved to the master he became, thanks to these on the spot
recordings, as poor as they are, you can start to gain an
impression of what it must have been like to hear him in person,
like a lot of performers, his style and
technique did infact evolve over the period of his life,
from the simple display of speed and exhuberance, coupled with
the stupendous outpouring of energy, so noted in his early
recordings, to the culmination of the norman granze recordings
that I have on pablo, these recordings done in the early fifties
with many of the finest jazz figures of that time, my favourite
disc with benny carter and louis bellson, shows tatum in
playing the blues at his zenith, there is no pianist I've heard
today that comes within a mile of him, for tone, touch, and
imagination, combined with the mind blowing technique, I have
listened to these tracks many times and each time its like
hearing it for the first time, the late benny carter is superb,
do yourself a favour and listen to where tatum evolved from,"
Nobody Tops Tatum For Pure Improvisational Genius
bgandl | Detroit | 06/10/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Jerry Garcia once said Art Tatum was the greatest musician who ever lived. This album shows what he played afterhours for his own pleasure, recorded on a low-fi wire recorder. It is humorous, delightful and dizzying. I much prefer it to any of his commercial releases."