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Topic: Art Tatum's most stunning recording??  (Read 1757 times)

Offline cuberdrift

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Art Tatum's most stunning recording??
on: July 27, 2017, 05:22:27 PM
Hi all,

I've come across this recording of Art Tatum's before, but I'm not sure many people have heard it.

I even thought it was fast-forwarded or something, as he seems to have had at least one other trio recording of "Tea for Two" that sounded exactly the same as that. Some of his runs here seem to be near Comme le vent speed or something, with a clarity I don't quite remember hearing the likes of before.

Could this be his most virtuosic recording? It seems to be a rather obscure one in his discography.

Regards,
cuberdrift

Offline clouseau

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Re: Art Tatum's most stunning recording??
Reply #1 on: July 29, 2017, 09:38:50 PM
Hello cuberdrift,

it's hard to answer that question, which recording is most virtuosic. However, i don't believe this recording is fast-forwarded. Oscar Peterson famously stopped playing the piano a while after listening to one of his recordings... His playing is still unbelievable even for today's standards.

I think Tatum's tea for two is in A flat, in that case, your recording has even been slowed down a bit, as it is a semitone deeper!
"What the devil do you mean to sing to me, priest? You are out of tune." - Rameau

Offline ted

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Re: Art Tatum's most stunning recording??
Reply #2 on: July 30, 2017, 09:54:53 AM
I prefer the recordings he made at a private party at Heindorf's house in the mid-fifties. They were issued on a Verve two CD set a few years ago. They were made with a tape recorder and have conversation and various background noises. However, there seems to be something about them which is lacking in his professional recordings, more musicianship and less dexterity perhaps. Well worth a listen.
"Mistakes are the portals of discovery." - James Joyce

Offline cuberdrift

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Re: Art Tatum's most stunning recording??
Reply #3 on: August 04, 2017, 01:31:13 PM
Hello cuberdrift,

it's hard to answer that question, which recording is most virtuosic. However, i don't believe this recording is fast-forwarded. Oscar Peterson famously stopped playing the piano a while after listening to one of his recordings... His playing is still unbelievable even for today's standards.

I think Tatum's tea for two is in A flat, in that case, your recording has even been slowed down a bit, as it is a semitone deeper!

Why is it "flat"? Isn't it possible that he was playing it in G Major? In any case, I do realize that his 1933 version of Tea for Two WAS in A flat but in the recording it seemed just a little bit out of tune. Is there something about old recording tech that makes it flat?

I prefer the recordings he made at a private party at Heindorf's house in the mid-fifties. They were issued on a Verve two CD set a few years ago. They were made with a tape recorder and have conversation and various background noises. However, there seems to be something about them which is lacking in his professional recordings, more musicianship and less dexterity perhaps. Well worth a listen.

Which is ironic 'cos some would say he played much better when off the studio.

Could it have been his health or something? He seemed to have thinned down his textures a great deal in his late recordings. Sort of became like Teddy Wilson or something, heh.

Interesting to know they are your favorites. I've listened to some of them and personally I don't see yet anything much new there than in his other more formal recordings, musically. I feel that he was just bored or something, maybe. Or maybe it was that session Peterson claimed that he was listening to some basketball game through a wire in his ear while improvising for the record.

I very much like his 1953 recording of "Tea for Two".



More interesting I think than his early 1930s stride version of the tune which is probably his most famous work.

I think that despite this 1953 arrangement's "jazz" context if one devoted time to study it note-for-note seriously would make a good classical concert piece. There's much to see in it, kind of like the Goldberg Variations or something. After listening various times to Tatum I sometimes liken him to Bach for some reason, at least more so than comparing him to "virtuoso" classical piano composers like Liszt, Chopin, Alkan, or Beethoven.

Offline clouseau

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Re: Art Tatum's most stunning recording??
Reply #4 on: August 04, 2017, 09:09:25 PM
Well it is just a guess...
Slowing down a recording with mechanical means results in a drop of pitch. For example a recordplayer not properly adjusted would have this effect. Of course Tatum would be able to play anything in any key he wanted, that is why I don't say it is unlikely, but less likely, as it is kinda odd to transpose something a semitone, as the keys are pretty remote (ex.  Ab+ has 4 flats, G+ one sharp, quite different finger positions).

Speeding up with digital means without affecting the pitch is also possible, though usually this is not imperceptible, and it would require quite some effort and know-how to do that well.
"What the devil do you mean to sing to me, priest? You are out of tune." - Rameau
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