Art Tatum was one of the most amazing musicians of all time. His technique was phenomenal and he could play lines with both hands so rapidly as to be miraculous. But much more than just a technician, Tatum improvised in a way that was quite futuristic, with his harmonies in the 1930s being 40 years ahead of their time. The Storyville label initiated a series of eight CDs of mostly previously unheard Art Tatum performances with this consistently exciting disc. Vol. 1 has quite a few selections that are remarkable, featuring Tatum playing impossibly fast and complex ideas flawlessly while always sounding relaxed. The first five solo numbers, from a February 1934 radio broadcast, start off passionately and never let up. The minute-and-a-half version of "Young and Healthy" should be enough to convince anyone of Tatum's greatness. Also on this set are solo selections from 1938-1939, trio numbers with guitarist Tiny Grimes and bassist Slam Stewart (including "Melody in F" and "Tiny's Exercise") from 1943-1944, and four tunes in which Tatum is joined by the Les Paul Trio in 1944. Paul has long talked about having had a chance to play with Tatum; now the proof is finally available. Other highlights include such numbers as "Chinatown, My Chinatown," "I Know That You Know," "I've Found a New Baby," and "Exactly Like You," but all 21 of these selections have their amazing moments.
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AllMusic Review by Scott Yanow