Tatum

Our rating 
5.0 out of 5 star rating 5.0

COMPOSERS: Tatum
LABELS: Naxos
ALBUM TITLE: Tatum
WORKS: Improvisations
PERFORMER: Steven Mayer (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: 8.55913
I’d often wondered why a pianist such as Eric Parkin had never got around to recording Art Tatum, but now we have this excellent collection from Steven Mayer, who, like Tatum himself, has become something of a key unifier of the multidirectional tradition of American pianism.

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Classically trained and with a lifelong interest in classical piano but grounded in jazz, Art Tatum was not only greatly admired by Duke Ellington and his peers but also (as the booklet notes indicate) by Vladimir Horowitz. His mischievous, ornamental approach knitted elaborate harmonic ideas into the pumping jazz style known as stride with compelling results both for jazz standards and the classical repertoire such as the Dvoák and Massenet pieces here. The line between transcription and embellishment is left slightly grey in this collection, but that somehow seems fair enough given Mayer’s vibrant performance, recorded with both warmth and sparkle. Unreservedly recommended. Roger Thomas