It may be of interest to the reader to gain a further understanding of the illimitable powers the legendary pianist possessed:
Later in his career, it was arranged for Tatum to record some tunes with Lionel Hampton, the great vibes player, and Buddy Rich, who, in my opinion, was as great a drummer as any in the profession.
After the sessions were completed ( and the reader can obtain these recordings, I believe), both Lionel Hampton and Buddy Rich, at different points of time, said the same thing; namely, that as these recordings were being made, they both felt that the nature and power of Tatum's playing were goading them on to greater levels of performance they had never contemplated possible, and that neither of them, in their minds, had ever equaled this level in their remaining years of performance, either live or recorded.
The fact that both of these giants in their own domains reflecting the same reactions demonstrates to this writer the unique level and substance of performance attainment that Tatum was able to project.
Another facet of this man of incalculable power was his memory and the repository coming out of it.
In 1953, I believe, Norman Granz, the famous recording executive, saw to it that Tatum be given a top grade piano to record whatever tunes Tatum chose to do. The result was that Tatum recorded 70 tunes in two days.
Granz, shortly after, decided to have Tatum record more tunes at his own pace, whereupon Tatum, for the next few years, recorded 51 additional tunes. All 121 tunes can be purchased, fortunately.
Because of the quality of the piano throughout, all of these recordings give us the wonderful, fluidic sound of Tatum, let alone the presence.
May I ask the reader to consider doing the following?
Choose any recordings of your favorite pop pianist, whether it be Oscar Peterson, or Lenny Tristano, or George Shearing, or Teddy Wilson, or ANY of the greats. Then alternate them with
any of the recordings Tatum made in the Granz project from 1953 on, and I think that you will have the same reaction that Hampton and Rich had after their session with Tatum; that is, Tatum was invariably at a level belonging only to him.
I cannot recall which of the stellar pianists said the following, but it was indeed said:
"listen to Tatum, and he makes us all feel/sound like amateurs".
Do remember that some of the legendary concert pianists, such as Rachmaninoff and Horowitz had unconditional admiration and respect for Tatum's elemental powers as a pianist.