Author Topic: Is Art Tatum the greatest piano virtuoso of all times?  (Read 5289 times)

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Offline Josquin des Prez

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Is Art Tatum the greatest piano virtuoso of all times?
« on: May 01, 2007, 04:32:19 PM »
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Uzj6Q61h3oA

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MNp-ldlnf5s

I'm not into virtuoso music in general, but damn. I have about 10 recordings of this guy and i'm just floored by each one of them. His fireworks can get boring after a while, but his musical invention is unmatched. Everything gets a spin, rhythm, harmony, color, dynamics, key changes, and it happens all so fast and spontaneously. If a piano could play itself, i'm sure this is what it would sound like.

Could even Hamelin keep up with Tatum?. Maybe in speed, but i'm not sure he could fit so many different aspects of piano playing within such brief moments. Hell, Hamelin's tone is generally flat even when playing 'simpler' type of music (traditional canon), which is one of the pet peeves i have with him.

Ho, and just because, here's a totally random guy trying his hands at Yesterdays:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XU_7grh7zVo&mode=related&search=

What world do we live in where unknown amateurs can mimic the masters and cannot even afford to buy real instruments?

Offline XB-70 Valkyrie

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Re: Is Art Tatum the greatest piano virtuoso of all times?
« Reply #1 on: May 01, 2007, 06:40:38 PM »
I won't venture to say who is greater or whatever, but I enjoy Errol Garner's playing even more than Art Tatum's. Both were undeniably great. Garner was largely self-taught, could not read music, but could play incredibly fast and incredibly lyrically as well. Too bad young black kids (kids of every color indeed!) don't listen to and appreciate this stuff instead of that horrific, dehumanizing gangsta rap garbage.

In the realm of jazz musicians, I think guitarists like Joe Pass could teach some classical guitarists a thing or two. Actually, Joe Pass is just about the only guitarist I enjoy outside of flamenco.

« Last Edit: May 01, 2007, 06:43:05 PM by XB-70 Valkyrie »
If you really dislike Bach you keep quiet about it! - Andras Schiff

Offline Josquin des Prez

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Re: Is Art Tatum the greatest piano virtuoso of all times?
« Reply #2 on: May 03, 2007, 05:02:32 PM »
Wow, this thread really took off, did it.  ;D

Offline XB-70 Valkyrie

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Re: Is Art Tatum the greatest piano virtuoso of all times?
« Reply #3 on: May 03, 2007, 10:10:50 PM »
Guess you got quality over quantity on this one.  ;D
If you really dislike Bach you keep quiet about it! - Andras Schiff

Offline SonicMan46

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Re: Is Art Tatum the greatest piano virtuoso of all times?
« Reply #4 on: May 30, 2007, 02:12:32 PM »
TTT!  ;D  Sorry guys, I meant to post to this thread earlier - please see my previous comment on Art Tatum in the Old Forum Thread - picked up the 8 CDs of the Solo Masterpieces on Pablo - for those interested, just give a listen (or a purchase) to the first two or three discs, likely will sell you on the others! The stories about Tatum are amazing - classic pianists like Horowitz use to sit for hours and watch Art perform - he indeed was great -  :)

Robert

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Re: Is Art Tatum the greatest piano virtuoso of all times?
« Reply #5 on: May 30, 2007, 02:15:37 PM »
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Uzj6Q61h3oA

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MNp-ldlnf5s

I'm not into virtuoso music in general, but damn. I have about 10 recordings of this guy and i'm just floored by each one of them. His fireworks can get boring after a while, but his musical invention is unmatched. Everything gets a spin, rhythm, harmony, color, dynamics, key changes, and it happens all so fast and spontaneously. If a piano could play itself, i'm sure this is what it would sound like.

Could even Hamelin keep up with Tatum?. Maybe in speed, but i'm not sure he could fit so many different aspects of piano playing within such brief moments. Hell, Hamelin's tone is generally flat even when playing 'simpler' type of music (traditional canon), which is one of the pet peeves i have with him.

Ho, and just because, here's a totally random guy trying his hands at Yesterdays:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XU_7grh7zVo&mode=related&search=

What world do we live in where unknown amateurs can mimic the masters and cannot even afford to buy real instruments?
I cannot say greatest. I think Bud Powell can give him a run for his money..... Fatha Hines, Monk, Oscar Peterson, Willie "The Lion" Smith to mention just a couple....
« Last Edit: May 30, 2007, 02:44:01 PM by Robert »

The Mad Hatter

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Re: Is Art Tatum the greatest piano virtuoso of all times?
« Reply #6 on: May 30, 2007, 02:25:58 PM »
Um...Liszt, anyone?

Offline Josquin des Prez

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Re: Is Art Tatum the greatest piano virtuoso of all times?
« Reply #7 on: May 30, 2007, 03:11:37 PM »
I cannot say greatest. I think Bud Powell can give him a run for his money..... Fatha Hines, Monk, Oscar Peterson, Willie "The Lion" Smith to mention just a couple....

I didn't say greatest pianist. I said greatest virtuoso.

Offline Josquin des Prez

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Re: Is Art Tatum the greatest piano virtuoso of all times?
« Reply #8 on: May 30, 2007, 03:15:16 PM »
Um...Liszt, anyone?

Let's stick to piano players of which we have concrete evidence of their prowess. We don't know how good Liszt really was, and chances are, we never will.

Offline SonicMan46

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Re: Is Art Tatum the greatest piano virtuoso of all times?
« Reply #9 on: May 30, 2007, 03:52:37 PM »
Let's stick to piano players of which we have concrete evidence of their prowess. We don't know how good Liszt really was, and chances are, we never will.

Remember all, this is the DINER - Liszt belongs above -  ;D   However, regarding 'improvisation' on melodies & chords, my 'match up' would be Tatum & Mozart - think that they would have enjoyed each other!  ;) :D

Scriptavolant

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Re: Is Art Tatum the greatest piano virtuoso of all times?
« Reply #10 on: May 30, 2007, 05:10:39 PM »
As a virtuoso, Earl Hines and Bud Powell could eventually challenge him. And I consider Bud Powell's virtuosism to be much more rich, complete and profound.

I've heard a story about a Powell-Tatum disagreement; Powell was disappointed by the fact that Tatum played some false note intepreting some Chopin, and Tatum answered that making mistakes was better than being a one-handed-pianist (referring to the fact that be-bop pianists tend to use their left hand less). As an answer, Powell played "Someday my prince will come" (or something like that) by using the left hand only.

Bud Powell: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6AOv7U9M0xc


Offline SonicMan46

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Re: Is Art Tatum the greatest piano virtuoso of all times?
« Reply #11 on: May 30, 2007, 05:45:37 PM »
Oh, maybe the title of the thread is too misleading -  ::)

All who enjoy Art Tatum, likely have recordings of most (and many more) of the jazz pianists already discussed - I enjoy all of them, whether goin' back to Jelly Roll Morton or Earl Hines, into the many Swing Era pianists (Teddy Wilson being a favorite, or into the more modern jazz era of the '50s, so many here (just several to mention who I enjoy, Oscar Peterson & Bill Evans; of course, not mentioning Count Basie or Duke Ellington - I guess my 'bottom line' is that there are so many great jazz pianists, all w/ their own unique styles & abilities - let's just talk about Art Tatum in this thread - thoughts & opinions about his performances (and from those who have heard them, please) -  8)

Robert

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Re: Is Art Tatum the greatest piano virtuoso of all times?
« Reply #12 on: May 30, 2007, 06:22:13 PM »
Oh, maybe the title of the thread is too misleading -  ::)

All who enjoy Art Tatum, likely have recordings of most (and many more) of the jazz pianists already discussed - I enjoy all of them, whether goin' back to Jelly Roll Morton or Earl Hines, into the many Swing Era pianists (Teddy Wilson being a favorite, or into the more modern jazz era of the '50s, so many here (just several to mention who I enjoy, Oscar Peterson & Bill Evans; of course, not mentioning Count Basie or Duke Ellington - I guess my 'bottom line' is that there are so many great jazz pianists, all w/ their own unique styles & abilities - let's just talk about Art Tatum in this thread - thoughts & opinions about his performances (and from those who have heard them, please) -  8)
Why don't we let Jos decide...Its his thread.....beisdes I would rather talk about Powell and Evans and John Lewis, and Monk even Hampton Hawes, Cecil Taylor, McCoy Tyner, to mention a few I would rather talk about than Tatum.....So if I talk about Evans then I can talk about Haden, Lewis MJQ, Tyner Trane and on and on and on..... ;)This is relevant right  ;D
« Last Edit: May 30, 2007, 07:51:10 PM by Robert »

Mozart

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Re: Is Art Tatum the greatest piano virtuoso of all times?
« Reply #13 on: May 30, 2007, 07:53:31 PM »
Of all time? Do we have any immortals here who have heard every virtuoso in the history of the piano? Which one did you prefer?

looja

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Re: Is Art Tatum the greatest piano virtuoso of all times?
« Reply #14 on: May 30, 2007, 10:50:15 PM »
Let's stick to piano players of which we have concrete evidence of their prowess. We don't know how good Liszt really was, and chances are, we never will.

I don't know about you but his legacy and concert reviews are enough evidence for me to call Liszt the greatest ::)

Symphonien

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Re: Is Art Tatum the greatest piano virtuoso of all times?
« Reply #15 on: May 30, 2007, 11:33:11 PM »
If a piano could play itself, i'm sure this is what it would sound like.

Looks like your prediction was correct! Listen to a sample of Nancarrow's Boogie-Woogie Suite.

According to the Wikipedia article, "Nancarrow's first pieces [for player piano] combined the harmonic language and melodic motifs of early jazz pianists like Art Tatum with extraordinarily complicated metrical schemes."

;D

lukeottevanger

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Re: Is Art Tatum the greatest piano virtuoso of all times?
« Reply #16 on: May 31, 2007, 01:45:23 AM »
Looks like your prediction was correct! Listen to a sample of Nancarrow's Boogie-Woogie Suite.

According to the Wikipedia article, "Nancarrow's first pieces [for player piano] combined the harmonic language and melodic motifs of early jazz pianists like Art Tatum with extraordinarily complicated metrical schemes."

;D

Or, indeed, try out Kyle Gann's astonishing Studies for Disklavier, which, whilst working along the same basic principles as Nancarrow's (Gann is a Nancarrow expert) have a much more explicit debt to, among others Tatum and Hines, Powell, Beethoven (a study which quotes all 32 sonatas over and agaisnt each other, in varying different tempi), Chopin, Cowell, Feldman, Terry Riley and Tango. A CD is available, and I'd urge you to buy it, but his website carries links to downloadable recordings of three of the etudes and seven of the 'scores'

For now, try out Bud Ran Back Out - the score is here 8) 8) 8) 8)

looja

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Re: Is Art Tatum the greatest piano virtuoso of all times?
« Reply #17 on: May 31, 2007, 02:18:26 AM »

For now, try out Bud Ran Back Out - the score is here 8) 8) 8) 8)

Luke, thanks for posting the link. it was surprisingly funny to listen it ;D

lukeottevanger

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Re: Is Art Tatum the greatest piano virtuoso of all times?
« Reply #18 on: May 31, 2007, 02:33:10 AM »
Luke, thanks for posting the link. it was surprisingly funny to listen it ;D

Funny, yes, but also surprisingly clever stuff, and just amazing when one stops to to imagine 1) an instrument playing this by itself and 2) the implication that a human could even attempt to do this: it sounds like Powell....only more so!

The scores to these things reveal quite how complicated the rhythmic layerings are. The Beethoven one - which is called Petty Larceny since, without exception, every note is taken from the 32 sonatas - is at once the crudest, the funniest and, in some respects, the most sophisticated. The whole thing is notated at one speed, in one time signature, but Gann re-notates each Beethoven fragment, applying the wildest forms of tuplets etc, sometimes making it hard, from reading the score alone, to see which sonata is being quoted, but working so that when played, it sounds just as it ought to, at its 'correct' tempo. He keeps to the orignal keys, too, and this suggests to him the unlikeliest of combinations along the way. There's farcical humour in the piece, then, but as it progresses, it becomes more reflective - in a paradoxical sense, then, although it is the piece Gann put least of himself into, note-by-note, it is the most personal in its structure, the most human and least machine-like of any of them.