|Imagine sitting in the room and hearing Art Tatum play in person.
Jazz pianist Art Tatum was recorded live in Los Angeles on April 2, 1949. That recording is available today on a Sony CD Piano Starts Here. “He was the greatest soloist in jazz history, regardless of instrument,” jazz critic Leonard Feather wrote in the liner notes. It is one of the best loved jazz albums ever, and has been in print for more than fifty years.
But, Tatum's playing was locked in the rough monaural sound of its time, until now.
Today's "Piano Starts Here" album has 13 tracks, played by Tatum at two
Sony recorded re-performances of the four New York studio sessions, first
recorded on March 21, 1933. As studio recordings, they were made in an
acoustically small room, and Tatum uses lots of pedal throughout. These four
tracks were originally made on 78 rpm masters for Brunswick.
Tea for Two (3:11)
St. Louis Blues (2:30)
Tiger Rag (2:17)
Sophisticated Lady (3:14)
Sony recorded re-performances of the nine live tracks from the "Just Jazz"
concert on April 2, 1949 at The Shrine Auditorium. The Shrine is an enormous
hall built in 1926, seating 6,300. Tatum, playing to audience in the room,
plays "big," with sparing use of the pedal. Here's the new order of these nine
Tatum-Pole Boogie (2:28)
Someone to Watch over Me (3:08)
How High the Moon (2:28)
Willow Weep for Me (3:13)
The Kerry Dance (1:04)
Gershwin Medley (3:53)
I Know That
You Know (2:30)
We corrected a number of flaws that have crept in over the years.
We restored Tatum's authentic tempi from the night of the concert. Our research
showed that during the transfer made for the current album, the tape playback
speed was slower than it was while recording the concert. As a result, not only
is the pitch of the current album slightly flat, but its tempi are too slow by
the same ratio. (Remarkably, Tatum actually played even faster than you may be
used to hearing!)
We fixed problems with tape glitches. For example, in one spot, 80ms of time
was lost in the midst of "Humoresque," disturbing the natural sense of pulse in
the performance. Recognizing tape glitches and adjusting the code accordingly
allows us to maintain the integrity of Tatum's playing.
We restored what is believed to be the original concert order of the nine Shrine
tracks, as shown above. Clues were provided by the original Columbia LP record
GL 101, "Gene Norman presents an ART TATUM concert," which is a continuous
recording of the entire concert, with no gaps between the tracks; it has all the
We restored lost material. The current album contains a track titled "The Man I
Love," but that track had been spliced already by 1952, excising excerpts from
Gershwin's "Porgy and Bess" played in the original concert. We restored the
omitted material (with thanks to Tatum discographer Arnold Laubich) -- you will
hear two additional minutes of Tatum's remarkable playing.