Art Tatum

Complete Capitol

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Art Tatum was at the top of his game during these sessions made for Capitol in 1949 and 1952. The virtuoso pianist performs 20 solos of standards and eight trio selections with bassist Slam Stewart and Everett Barksdale, all beautifully remastered in this two-CD compilation. Tatum is obviously at his very best when heard as a soloist, since he does not have to rein in his tremendous chops to allow others to keep up with him. The highlights: his stunning "Willow Weep for Me," with chime-like chords and wonderful right-handed arpeggios, the playful "Dardanella," a buoyant "Sweet Lorraine" (long one of his favorites), as well as the warm rendition of "My Heart Stood Still." The trio tracks are also fun, if slightly less daring. Tatum tests his bandmates with his rapid-fire arrangement of Anton Rubenstein's "Melody in F, Opus 3, No. 1," they prove up to the task, complete with Stewart's trademark (singing in octave unison with his arco bass). But the trio is at its best in the brisk interpretation of "Tea for Two" and a mad dash through "Just One of Those Things." An added bonus is the inclusion of a brief interview with Tatum by Paul Weston, which was originally sent to radio stations for promotional use only.

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