Collectors who have prized the series of rare Art Tatum performances issued by Storyville will be delighted with this ninth and final volume, as all 27 tracks are previously unissued and a number of them were not known to exist. The selections that came from 1940s transcriptions are well recorded and in excellent shape with minimal surface noise. Of particular interest is the only known duo performance by Tatum with Slam Stewart (guitarist Tiny Grimes had a blown amplifier tube), a joyful take of "I Know That You Know." Following his famous solo interpretation of "Tea for Two," the bizarre take of "St. Louis Blues" prominently features the very square Alan Roth Orchestra (complete with white-bread vocalists and a rather unswinging arrangement) in the beginning and ending of the piece, with the pianist soloing by himself in the center. The five tracks recorded at Tatum's home on his Steinway are superb, particularly his striding take of "Goin' Home," though the remaining selections are more seriously marred by the background hum and prominent surface noise. The final 18 songs, most of which are newly discovered, come from Jessye's, a Los Angeles all-night after-hours club in the Central Avenue area. Singer Mal Collier gamely joins Tatum on "Don't Take Your Love From Me," "Somebody Loves Me," "What Is This Thing Called Love," and "I'm in the Mood for Love." Tatum himself sings "If You Haven't Gone Away," "Let Me Call You Sweetheart" (in a hilarious pseudo-drunk rendition), and "If You Hadn't Gone Away." The two share the vocals during "I'll See You in My Dreams" (though it is a rehearsal, not a complete take), "Ain't Misbehavin'" (a rehearsal followed by a complete version, with Tatum adding a bit of scat), and "Aunt Hagar's Blues." Among the instrumentals from this venue is Tatum's only known rendition of Noël Coward's "Zigeneur." While the sound quality is very inconsistent on the music recorded at Jessye's, the rarity of the material and the chance to hear Tatum play for friends in an informal setting make it easy to ignore.
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AllMusic Review by Ken Dryden