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jazzfan
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Art Tatum - The Tatum Group Masterpieces

Over the years 1954 to 1956 Norman Granz recorded the jazz pianist Art Tatum in a variety of group settings, from trios to sextets and over the years these recordings have been reissued in a variety of formats, from 8 individual CDs to a 6 CD box set.

Anyone looking for state of the art small group swing jazz need look no further - these recordings are the mother lode. The personnel listings read like a who's who of swing jazz and feature such notable swing musicians as Benny Carter, Ben Webster, Buddy DeFranco, Red Callender, Jo Jones, Lionel Hampton, Harry "Sweets" Edison, Barney Kessel, Buddy Rich, Louis Bellson and Roy Eldridge. A very impressive list.

While the recordings where made in a studio and there are no clinking glasses or other live recording artifacts the music is sublime and easily rates as some of the most important small group swing jazz ever recorded. And of course, Tatum is nothing short of a force of nature.

Get the box set and you instantly have the start of a killer jazz collection.

rmeyer52
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Re: Art Tatum - The Tatum Group Masterpieces

It looks like the box set is hard to find here in the US. I did find it online but it is $230

linden518
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Re: Art Tatum - The Tatum Group Masterpieces

I have the Ben Webster/Art Tatum (vol 8) on LP (Analogue Productions' 45 rpm reissue of the Pablo), and it's excellent. Though it must be said that I do prefer Tatum solo. Webster-Tatum works b/c of Webster's reedy, fat tone which emphasizes laconic phrases. Tatum still goes nuts in the back with his pianistic wizardry. At times, w/ other performers, Tatum can seem like he has a musical version of the Tourette's syndrome. I sometimes wish he'd just ease up and listen to others more in ensemble sets...

But I give it up. My favorite jazz pianist of all time, for sure.

radish
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Re: Art Tatum - The Tatum Group Masterpieces

SD,

Given that you're a writer and an Art Tatum fan, you might be interested in this, from The NYT's often interesting "Paper Cuts" blog.

http://papercuts.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/09/24/living-with-music-a-playlist-by-paul-berman/

radish

linden518
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Re: Art Tatum - The Tatum Group Masterpieces

Thanks for the excellent link, radish! It's funny b/c my friend, writer Sam Lipsyte, wants to introduce me to Dwight Garner soon, so I might actually get to talk to him about Tatum sooner than later...

It's a great post, and I agree with almost everything he says, because those are precisely the very reasons why Tatum is my favorite jazz pianist... the virtuosic, polyrhythmic, intense narrativistic drive. I don't doubt that at all. But I still maintain my point that he runs away sometimes from other performers. I know the tide has turned when it comes to Tatums capacity as an ensemble player, but when his playing has to recede from the spotlight to give other solos their due, his accompaniment is way too decorous for my tastes. He still does musical somersaults in the background; it works sometimes, it doesn't work a lot of times. But that's only my opinion, of course. I still like him much better solo.

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