Art Tatum

Performance

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For Art Tatum enthusiasts, this set of solo piano pieces taken from the archives of Antonio Meloni and issued by Fuel have all been released in one place or another -- certainly on the multi-volume Storyville set. That said, all 34 performances here, taken from radio transcriptions and broadcasts, showcase the enigmatic pianist’s gifts in the setting that made him shine the most: solo. The sound quality ranges from good -- with some surface noise -- to nearly excellent. The performances themselves are breathtaking, beginning with the speed demon reading of “Young and Healthy” that opens the set to his early and later versions of "Ain’t Misbehavin’," his iconoclastic reading of “Caravan,” and his wry humor at work in the layered harmonics of “Just a Gigolo.” Scott Yanow's liner essay outlines and places these tunes in their chronological and historical places, identifying the various radio programs and series these were taken from, making it, for the money, a delightful package that serves two purposes: it offers collectors who have everything an excellent mixtape from the prime of Tatum's radio years, and it offers the newcomer a fantastic introduction as to what jazz fans have been talking about -- he was peerless in the history of jazz -- for the better part of a century.

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