Storyville's sixth volume in a series of nine Art Tatum compilation CDs explores rare broadcasts that have either appeared previously on obscure, long unavailable LPs, or not at all. Tatum is joined by bassist Slam Stewart and guitarist Everett Barksdale during most of these sessions, which barely reined in Tatum's explosive technique, though Stewart's gimmick of humming in octave unison with his arco bass gets tiresome after a while. The three tracks from the circa-1951 aircheck at Café Society Downtown has noticeably improved sound over its previous commercial issue by Collector's Items. The highlight is a sophisticated treatment of "The Man I Love," which succeeds in spite of Stewart's excessively long solo. The 1952 broadcast material from Birdland appeared on Alto and Giants of Jazz albums, but two new tracks from the same show, "On the Sunny Side of the Street" and "Sweet Lorraine," appear for the first time, though there are some problems with the source material. The playful romp through "Tea for Two" (long a staple of Tatum's repertoire) and an extended "Body and Soul" stand out. None of the seven selections from two weekly programs originating from the Bandbox have been issued previously. All of the standards will be familiar to longtime Tatum fans, even if these versions are new. But the final two songs (also from the Bandbox) will be of greatest value to collectors, as Tatum is heard alone at the piano, playing a dazzling interpretation of "Where or When" and his unbelievable cascade through "Taboo." Because these two performances were only briefly available on a long out of print bootleg LP issued by Teppa, their presence (with greatly improved fidelity) is an additional incentive to snap up this valuable compilation without delay.
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AllMusic Review by Ken Dryden