Monday, May 7, 2012

The Tatum Project - A Perspective of This Giant...

I thought that I had discussed with the reader in a previous blog my Tatum Project; however, it appears that I had not done so. May I present this endeavor to you now....
Perhaps the most compelling reality about the name Art Tatum is that of all the great pop musicians this past century has produced, his name is discussed, analyzed and held in greater regard and awe than, perhaps, any other in his field. From university to living room; from recording studio to diner or bar - every day that has passed since his brief appearance on this earth, the name Art Tatum is dealt with in one form or another, in locations scattered throughout the world. I cannot remember any of the hallowed educational institutions I had attended where the name Tatum was not discussed. And please be reminded that the likes of a Horowitz or a Rachmaninoff held him in the the highest regard.
Some years back, I decided to deal with his genius at a rather high level of comparative analysis.
And so, to make this a bit more brief - over a period of about six months, I produced about five or six CD's, with the following material therein:
Very carefully, and with much thought, I chose a specific tune from the Tatum recordings(I believe that I possess almost everything he recorded, which includes the wire recordings of 1941 from the Newman Archive), followed by a piece from the vast library of classical recordings by the great concert pianists of our time and past periods.
In other words, these discs would contain a tune arranged by Tatum, which would then be followed by a composition performed by, say, Artur Rubinstein, of about the same length; specifically, about three minutes or thereabout.
To encapsulate: The CD's would contain such a list as the following - Tatum, Kissin; Tatum, Gilels; Tatum, Horowitz; Tatum, Rachmaninoff; Tatum,Arrau etc.
The reason for this rather heavily researched project was simply to put forth a question; namely, was this comparatively uneducated, unsophisticated little man the equal, in raw pianistic terms, the equal of any of the legendary pianists that have been recorded during this past century?
Wonder if Horowitz ever pondered this question - we know that Vladimir Horowitz befriended Art Tatum and was unhesitatingly in awe of him, speaking countless times in open admiration of the prowess of the pop legend.
I can tell you that one of the leading pianists of our day requested a copy of the Project, which I sent him.

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