Art Tatum

Complete Original American Decca Recordings

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Collectors of recordings by piano great Art Tatum are frustrated by the many haphazard, poorly documented, and often incomplete collections of his work; this four-CD set by the English label Definitive attempts to collect all of his known recordings for Decca, but there are a few surprising twists. Tatum recorded many of his piano solos with several different takes, so as many as 23 alternate takes remain unissued (and are most likely either lost or unusable) according to Tatum discographer Arnold Laubich. But this is made up by the fact that all of his sessions with singer Adelaide Hall for Brunswick (including four previously unissued alternate takes, one of whose existence was not previously known) and every song he waxed with blues singer Joe Turner are present. Tatum's virtuoso performances -- especially his solos of "Tiger Rag," "Elegie," and "Body and Soul" -- are still amazing many decades after they were first released. The 24-bit sound of this compilation is richer than the earlier MCA and GRP CD reissues, so the release of this thorough collection may cause more than a few Tatum fans to trade up. The only drawback to this highly recommended reissue is its rather pedestrian liner notes.

Track Listing - Disc 1

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
1 2:01
2 3:05
3 3:12
4 3:10
5 3:10
6 3:15
7 2:39
8 2:21
9 3:18
10 2:42
11 2:39
12 2:56
13 2:50
14 3:02
15 3:17
16 2:58
17 2:49
18 3:06
19 3:11
20 3:11
21 3:11

Track Listing - Disc 2

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
1 2:53
2 2:52
3 2:40
4 2:44
5 2:50
6 3:24
7 3:10
8 3:11
9 3:09
10 2:44
11 3:09
12 3:04
13 2:53
14 3:13
15 3:26
16 2:47
17 3:19
18 3:04
19 3:09
20 2:43
21 3:04
blue highlight denotes track pick