Saturday, August 13, 2011

The Tatum Project - A Perspective...

During my education years, especially in the advanced aspects, there were innumerable conversations among both fellow students, let alone professors and various artists centering around the piano legend Art Tatum.
Even though Tatum was in the Pop field, his gigantic gifts have been a constant issue among musicians in the Classical field, and such giants as Rachmaninoff , Stokowski and Horowitz were inveterate admirers of this musician. And to this day, only a handful of pop pianists approach the level of performance that Art Tatum could reach. Blindness seemed to goad his gift to unparalleled playing levels, rather than deter.
At Tanglewood, a pianist appearing there happened to mention Tatum to me during a conversation, and I asked him if he would like to receive a copy of a project I had done a short time before. After I described what the project contained, he quite excitedly said "Please send it to me!"
I call it the Tatum Project, and it consists of a number of performances of both Art Tatum and great concert pianists of the past eighty years.
The first track would be Tatum, followed by a carefully selected performance by Gilels, or Rubinstein, or Rachmaninoff, or Horowitz, or Kissin, etc. What is meant as "carefully selected" is to have found a piece in the Classical sector that paralleled the character, speed, even the key(if possible) of the piece played by Tatum - this process took me many months, but was, for me, most assuredly worth the effort.
And so, the many tracks are, as an example: Tatum, followed by Rubinstein, followed by Tatum, followed by Gilels etc.
The results have, over a period of time, come back to me from those who have received the Tatum Project - expressions of incredulity by those who are in the field of music, including that pianist at Tanglewood, when they heard Tatum and the world-famous pianists back-to-back in quick but real time; a different way of finding out more of the profound effect that Tatum had, AND has, on the pianists of our day.
I'm quite confident that the overwhelming forces of the Tatum performances will continue to beguile and dazzle, past our time.

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