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Ultimate: Art Tatum

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Album Review

Verve's Ultimate Art Tatum may not live up to its billing, but the budget-priced collection is nevertheless a terrific introductory sampler. Hank Jones selected the 16 tracks on the compilation and he also wrote the liner notes. He did an excellent job balancing acknowledged classics with choices that illustrate Tatum's range. Some listeners will undoubtedly find a favorite or two missing, but these 16 tracks — including "Tenderly," "I Cover the Waterfront," "Someone to Watch Over Me," "Yesterdays," "Willow Weep for Me," "Wrap Your Troubles in Dreams (And Dream Your Troubles Away)," "Sweet Lorraine," "There Will Never Be Another You," and "Too Marvelous for Words" — capture the essence of Tatum's Verve recordings, which is enough to make this a worthwhile sampler.


Born: October 13, 1909 in Toledo, OH

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '20s, '30s, '40s, '50s

Art Tatum was among the most extraordinary of all jazz musicians, a pianist with wondrous technique who could not only play ridiculously rapid lines with both hands (his 1933 solo version of "Tiger Rag" sounds as if there were three pianists jamming together) but was harmonically 30 years ahead of his time; all pianists have to deal to a certain extent with Tatum's innovations in order to be taken seriously. Able to play stride, swing, and boogie-woogie with speed and complexity that could only previously...
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Ultimate: Art Tatum, Art Tatum
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