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Art Tatum

for jazz history

tony ho

on 1 June 2015

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Transcript of Art Tatum


October 13, 1909

November 5, 1956

Tatum was born in Toledo, Ohio. His father was a guitarist.
his mother played piano.

From infancy he suffered from cataracts, which left him blind in one eye and with only very limited vision in the other.
learning tunes from the radio and copying piano-roll recordings by his mother owned.

Art Tatum's favorite jazz piano player was
Earl Hines

In 1925, Tatum moved to the Columbus School for the Blind, where he studied music and learned braille.
In 1927, Tatum began playing on Toledo radio station as 'Arthur Tatum, Toledo's Blind Pianist'. By the age of 19, Tatum was playing at the local Club.
A major event in his meteoric rise to success was his appearance at a
cutting contest
in 1933 at Morgan's bar in New York City.
Cutting contests
were a form of musical battles between various stride piano players between the 1920s and 1940s. At that time, stride pianist
Art Tatum
would usually win, beating out such notable pianists as
Fats Waller, Teddy Wilson, Count Basie, Earl "Fatha" Hines, Albert Ammons, Harry Gibson, Pete Johnson, Marlowe, Clarence Prophet, and Claude Hopkins. James P. Johnson and Willie "The Lion" Smith.
Tatum was a leader in that movement. He sometimes improvised lines that presaged bebop and later jazz genres.

Tatum's unique sound was attributable to his harmonic inventiveness as well as technic.
Although his excessive drinking didn't affect his playing, it did unfortunately affect his health. By 1952, Tatum began showing a toxic blood condition resulting from a severe kidney disease. On November 5, Tatum died at age 47, and although his career was relatively short, Tatum's brilliant playing still remains unparalleled and highly influential.

Tatum believed there was a limited audience for solo piano, he formed a
in 1943 with guitarist
Tiny Grimes
and bassist
Slam Stewart

Notable session with the 1944 Esquire Jazz All-Stars, which included
Louis Armstrong
Billie Holiday
and other jazz greats, at the Metropolitan Opera House in New York City.

“Too Marvelous for Words”

by James Lester.

October 13, 1909

November 5, 1956
Full transcript