|This Art Tatum album is the result of recordings made by Jerry Newman, a college student who taped jam sessions in the 1940s. (Newman's tapes are now regarded by jazz historians as musical treasures.) Recorded in '40 and '41, GOD IS IN THE HOUSE is a fascinating record for the discerning Tatum fan, and features the piano legend playing informally at late-night house parties in Harlem, New York.
Playing at after-hours gatherings was a favorite activity for Tatum, since he enjoyed the impromptu and casual nature of this environment. Accordingly, Tatum plays with a more relaxed feel in this setting than he does in concert-hall settings or even in club atmospheres. The recording locations and personnel on this disc vary. Solo piano tracks "Georgia on My Mind" and "Laughing at Life" are wonderful, but Tatum's collaborations with trumpeter Frank Newton and bassist Ebenezer Paul are even more spirited and musically compelling. The highlights of the record, for historical reasons, are probably "Toledo Blues" and "Knockin' Myself Out." These tracks feature Tatum singing, which is a rarity indeed.