A rich and rewarding core sample, selected from one of Norman Granz's deepest gold mines. The full set of Tatum ensemble master takes was released on eight vinyl records in 1975, appearing with alternate takes as a box of seven compact discs in 1990. Since then, each separate session has been issued on a single, affordable CD. With the release of this best-of, the only remaining untried reissue format stratagem could almost be conducted according to the laws of chance. If someone were to divide up the existing 59 master takes (saving the alternate takes for a "Best of the Tatum Alternates" compilation), the entire body of work could be issued as a numbered best-of series, the titles carefully shuffled at random. But each volume would possibly still omit something that could be considered essential. This is the insoluble problem with anything calling itself a best-of. Fortunately, the Tatum group recordings produced by Norman Granz during the years 1954, 1955, and 1956 actually deserve the word "masterpieces." While Tatum himself is honored as one of the very most gifted and influential of all jazz musicians, without exception every musician who participated in these sessions was adept, inspired, and, in many cases, masterful. (There are those who would suggest that the Art Tatum/Ben Webster date could stand by itself as the best of the group masterpieces.) Here, for once, is a package worthy of its title. A bit of the best of some of the very best jazz ever recorded.
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AllMusic Review by arwulf arwulf