Featuring 29 solo piano performances by Art Tatum recorded between 1932 and 1953, this Storyville Records set shows that Tatum's astounding skills never truly diminished. Put simply, he was the greatest solo pianist in the history of jazz, and it is unimaginable that anyone will ever surpass him. What's here is somewhat of a mixed bag, with several live radio performances ("Where or When," "Chinatown, My Chinatown," "Lulu's Back in Town"), live recordings from the Embers in New York ("Don't Blame Me," "Memories of You"), and a pair of rare recordings from a 1949 set in a Toronto club ("The Continental," Chopin's Waltz in C sharp minor, Op. 64/2). There are also two versions of Tatum playing his signature "Tiger Rag" here, as well as a breezy version of "Devil in the Moon." Anything Tatum attempted on the piano became transformed, and even standard pieces like "Willow Weep for Me" become exhilarating, careening pieces in Tatum's hands. Sonic qualities vary from track to track here, and this probably isn't the ideal introduction to Tatum, but his singular abilities made each and every time he sat down at the piano worth hearing. ~ Steve Leggett
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