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#2201772 - 06/15/10 11:31 PM "God is in the House" !
Dave Ferris Offline
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Registered: 03/05/07
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Loc: Glendale, Ca.
A famous quote by Fats Waller referring to Art Tatum when he came into a club that Fats was playing.


One of the most essential qualities about AT that people tend to overlook because of his enormous technique was his time feel imo. Like Bud Powell, it didn't matter if the tempo was slow , medium or very fast, his time was rock solid. Like the comment mentions his feel at around 1:21 is other worldly.

Like Kenny Barron mentions here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Art_Tatum I have a lot of ATs recordings (including the "Complete Pablo Solo Masterpieces") but I never listen to them.......I'd quit playing if I did. smile

I didn't know he sang. That's AT on tracks # 8 & 9.
http://www.emusic.com/album/Art-Tatum-God-Is-In-The-House-MP3-Download/10599634.html

Another tidbit. His wife just passed away this past May 4 in LA here. They are both interred right down the street from me in Glendale's Forest Lawn. I did not know that.

Over the years whenever I would start thinking to myself, "yeah you sound pretty darn good", all I have to do is walk over to my CD shelf and pull out any Art Tatum CD-within one minute those thoughts instantly disappear. smile

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#2201810 - 06/16/10 05:53 AM Re: "God is in the House" ! [Re: Dave Ferris]
Meisenhower Offline
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Loc: Sausalito, CA & Detroit, MI
What a monster. His time is rock solid and only exceeded by his flawless technique. Listening to any AT recording is just a humbling experience, no matter how well you play.
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#2201911 - 06/16/10 10:30 AM Re: "God is in the House" ! [Re: Meisenhower]
ProfD Offline
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Listening to AT as a musician is always humbling from a technical perspective. The man was truly gifted.

I take comfort in knowing that even if I had his ability, the average person could only listen to it for a few seconds before asking if I knew how to play any 'real' songs. laugh cool
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"The greatest thing you'll ever learn, is just to love and be loved in return."--E. Ahbez "Nature Boy"

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#2201968 - 06/16/10 12:31 PM Re: "God is in the House" ! [Re: ProfD]
SK Offline
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Registered: 12/24/06
Posts: 4168
Loc: North America
Tatum - the first time I heard him was by accident. I found some old 78's left in the attic of a house I'd moved to. I thought "who's this guy?" I cluelessly put the first record on and almost fell out of my chair.

While I'm not really 'musically' into him, who wouldn't marvel at his technique, and even his broad harmonic sense for that time period. It's like he's from another world.

The best possible recordings of Tatum are from Zenph Studio (Linwood linked this site ages ago) They converted audio of his playing to midi, with an acoustic piano playing it back before a live audience:

http://www.zenph.com/mp3/Zenph-Tiger-Rag-Tatum-1933-outtake.mp3

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#2201977 - 06/16/10 12:46 PM Re: "God is in the House" ! [Re: SK]
bhodaway10 Offline
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Posts: 1166
Loc: San Francisco, CA
! Thanks SK!

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#2202012 - 06/16/10 01:55 PM Re: "God is in the House" ! [Re: bhodaway10]
MonksDream Offline
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Registered: 10/09/08
Posts: 1896
Loc: Vancouver, BC, Canada
"Art You -can't-imi-Tatum" - Nat Hentoff(?)

I've said it before: hearing Tatum makes me want to both practice like crazy and quit playing piano entirely.

The thing about his time is that his phrasing is *never* random or haphazard. No matter how fast he's playing you can hear and feel the subdivisions clearly. I think it's because as a stride player - no, THE stride player - he felt his right hand subdivisions in reference to his rock-solid left hand pulse.

I asked my wife for Tatum transcriptions for Christmas one year and along with them she gave me the book The Right Hand According To Tatum. (Yes, my wife rocks!). It's an excellent book and I highly recommend it. I mention it because it's a measure of his virtuosity that knowing how he does some of it makes his playing *more* amazing, not less!
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#2202025 - 06/16/10 02:10 PM Re: "God is in the House" ! [Re: MonksDream]
The Real MC Offline
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Oscar Peterson had a much briefer response.

Peterson was playing a club when Tatum walked in. When Peterson spotted Tatum, he bolted from the piano bench and cried "Oh!" "No!" Peterson couldn't play another note in the presence of Tatum.

As far as technique, chord substitution, reharmonization, and fluid runs crossing into either hand - they didn't come any better than Tatum. That man is a monster and I can only listen to five of his songs before my brain gets full and says "enough!".

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#2202075 - 06/16/10 04:23 PM Re: "God is in the House" ! [Re: The Real MC]
NoahZark Offline
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Okay, I know that I'm gonna get slammed for this, and I really should just stay out of these jazz discussions because they just get me into trouble (Philistine that I am when it comes to the genre). That said, I listened to that recording of Tatum playing Tea For Two and I have two reactions (one positive and one negative):

The positive reaction relates to the technique. Speed, control, timing, feel....all absolutely amazing. "Virtuosic" in the truest sense of the word. Mind-blowingly good.

The negative? The performance reminds me somewhat of the critique that is occasionally doled out on American Idol about singers who insist on demonstrating their vocal chops by over-indulging in runs. (Think Christina Aguilera or Mariah Carey run amok.) It's just too much. The tune itself gets flooded out by all those virtuosic runs, and it seems a bit like showing off just for the sake of showing off instead of telling the best possible musical story. If it were a guitar solo, I dare say that some keyboardists here might even refer to it as "wanking." (I'm really ducking for cover on this last one.)

To riff on the title of this thread, I'm sure I've committed sacrilege here, so go ahead all you non-Philistines in the bunch: Flame away! wink

Noah

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#2202083 - 06/16/10 04:44 PM Re: "God is in the House" ! [Re: NoahZark]
SHaka40 Offline
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Registered: 05/27/07
Posts: 445
Loc: Maryland, USA
Originally Posted By: NoahZark
Okay, I know that I'm gonna get slammed for this...

I don't see why you should get slammed for this at all! In fact, I would guess that just about everybody who hears Tatum for the first time has a similar reaction. Now maybe you're wording it in a harsher, more critical tone, but I don't think your reaction is drastically different from how "The Real MC" says he has to quit listening after a few songs because his brain has had enough.

Put another way: I don't know of anybody who considers Art Tatum their favorite pianist (I'm sure there are some guys, but I don't hear his name mentioned much). I don't even know anyone who even makes it a point to listen to Tatum all that often to be honest. It's more of a respect and admiration for his unparalleled technique, speed, dexterity, fluidity and most of all his influence; not so much his ability to infuse feeling into a song or invoke an emotional response in the listener (...besides that "Oh shit, I'm never touching a piano again" emotion). YMMV
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#2202094 - 06/16/10 05:16 PM Re: "God is in the House" ! [Re: NoahZark]
marino Offline
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Loc: Rome, Italy
A few months ago I started a thread about that... I had bought an album called "The Ultimate Art Tatum" at a newspaper kiosk... I had just thrown it in my handbag and had forgotten about it.
Then, how it happens, that same night I played a gig, and for once, I was under the impression that everything had clicked the right way, and that my playing was worth a listen after all.

Just before sleep time, the Art album slipped away from the bag, and I decided to have a listen before going to bed... sigh. My ego lost 400 points that night. The sheer pianistic control, not to speak of harmony, creativity and everything else, swept away any residual sef-confidence I could have felt. A humbling experience if there ever was one.

Originally Posted By: NoahZark
I'm sure I've committed sacrilege here,

Sure you have. grin

Quote:
so go ahead all you non-Philistines in the bunch: Flame away! wink

Noah

Not worthy. The evidence is striking! grin wink

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#2202102 - 06/16/10 05:50 PM Re: "God is in the House" ! [Re: NoahZark]
SK Offline
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Registered: 12/24/06
Posts: 4168
Loc: North America
Originally Posted By: NoahZark
Okay, I know that I'm gonna get slammed for this, and I really should just stay out of these jazz discussions because they just get me into trouble
It's okay, Noah. smile Tatum was a phenomenon and almost super human. He also had some tricks that made some seemingly impossible things easier to play, which have been studied by afficianados and emulated to some extent. But just the sheer energy of his playing... if I had to listen to it every day, I would probably have to be placed on medication. That said, I have enormous respect for him.

The Mariah Carey technique analogy has some validity, except for one difference.. it's not long before Tatum's music will be 100 years old. I'd be surprised if they talk about Carey 100 years from now.


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#2202130 - 06/16/10 07:42 PM Re: "God is in the House" ! [Re: SK]
NoahZark Offline
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Registered: 11/06/05
Posts: 3604
Loc: Maryland, USA
Originally Posted By: SK
The Mariah Carey technique analogy has some validity, except for one difference.. it's not long before Tatum's music will be 100 years old. I'd be surprised if they talk about Carey 100 years from now.


Absolutely, and I certainly wasn't trying to compare the vitality of Mariah Carey as an artist to that of Art Tatum. In the immortal words of Lefty Dreisell, I may be dumb, but I ain't stupid. Rather, Mariah and "Xtina" were just the first singers that came to mind when I think of over-indulgent, I-never-sing-a-single-note-when-a-run-can-show-my-talent-so-much-better vocalists. wave

N

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#2202139 - 06/16/10 08:12 PM Re: "God is in the House" ! [Re: NoahZark]
SK Offline
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Registered: 12/24/06
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And Noah, I actually somewhat agree with that aspect of what you're saying. And even though you invited flaming posts, I resisted the temptation. grin

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#2202173 - 06/17/10 12:52 AM Re: "God is in the House" ! [Re: NoahZark]
MonksDream Offline
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Registered: 10/09/08
Posts: 1896
Loc: Vancouver, BC, Canada
Originally Posted By: SK
It's okay, Noah. smile Tatum was a phenomenon and almost super human. He also had some tricks that made some seemingly impossible things easier to play...

That is very true, SK. One of the things I love most about Tatum is how pianistically efficient he is. There are a few 'tricks' in the book I mentioned earlier where his understanding of the mechanics of keyboard playing led him to things that sound amazing but are actually very simple, fall under the hand well, and are surprisingly playable by mere mortals.

Originally Posted By: NoahZark
The positive reaction relates to the technique. Speed, control, timing, feel....all absolutely amazing. "Virtuosic" in the truest sense of the word. Mind-blowingly good.

The negative? The performance reminds me somewhat of the critique that is occasionally doled out on American Idol about singers who insist on demonstrating their vocal chops by over-indulging in runs. (Think Christina Aguilera or Mariah Carey run amok.) It's just too much. The tune itself gets flooded out by all those virtuosic runs, and it seems a bit like showing off just for the sake of showing off instead of telling the best possible musical story.

Noah, I think you have to keep in mind that Tatum is the epitome a generation of piano players for whom showing off was telling the best possible musical story. This was the time of rent parties and cutting contests where a piano player's livelihood depended on standing out for their virtuosity and the energy they generated in the room and for the dancers. I think also that their listeners would have had far more exposure to, and tolerance for, classical piano repertoire and technique (theme and variations, cadenzas, etc.) than later generations.
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#2202174 - 06/17/10 12:59 AM Re: "God is in the House" ! [Re: NoahZark]
Kayvon Offline
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Registered: 05/03/05
Posts: 618
Loc: London
Noah your post reminded me of this:




Tatum is prob my number 2 jazz pianist after Ahmad Jamal. I don't always want to listen to Tatum but then again sometimes I don't want to listen to Ahmad Jamal. When I first bought a Tatum album I could only listen to one track off it. For a long time I knew Tatum was bad but I could only listen to, or more tellingly, actually hear, one of his recordings (Begin the Beguine)

Then as time went on I got Yesterdays in my ear, then Tenderly, then Have you met Miss Jones and so on and so on until now I'm at the point where I can listen to near enough any Tatum recordings. It might take a couple of listens to understand what he's doing but I'll get there!

Also Noah, you have to bear in mind in any music you may have to listen past stylistic elements to hear the underlying expression. Basically Tatum was around the late stride era and jazz piano music from that period did involve lots of notes played very fast. You weren't gonna go into a rent party in Harlem and hear some smoked out, cool jazz piano, it was gonna be upbeat, extrovert and played with as much virtuosity as was possible.

When you take this into account and you listen past your impression of the 'sound' of 1930's jazz piano, you are left with, simply put, one of the most genius players of jazz that has ever lived. To understand and appreciate (appreciate in the sense that you grasp the redeeming qualities of the subject) someone like Tatum's playing, I believe, is to like it. That may sound silly, you know, to know him is to love him but it's true.

When you start to understand what (good) jazz musicians are doing, for me it has an intrinsic value that leads me to appreciate (the other meaning of appreciate) it. Now, you might do this but never listen to jazz again, but that's because your tastes lie elsewhere. That's fine, no one should tell you what your taste is, but at the same time, don't tell us that Tatum is playing too many notes because he is doing what he's doing nigh on perfectly, you can't get what he's doing done better. There is no comparison to guitar "wankers". On the surface there might be but let me tell you, this guy Tatum is pure musicality. Sometimes I get the impression that Tatum can be a little bored at the piano, maybe the time is not perfect and he dispenses his virtuosity for the recording or the crowd but you have to bear in mind what rate of knots the minds of people like Tatum work at. I believe Tatum would have played twice as fast and twice as harmonically complex if either his body would've let him or if people wouldn't have just dismissed it as noise.

Originally Posted By: shaka40
I don't even know anyone who even makes it a point to listen to Tatum all that often to be honest. It's more of a respect and admiration for his unparalleled technique, speed, dexterity, fluidity and most of all his influence; not so much his ability to infuse feeling into a song or invoke an emotional response in the listener (...besides that "Oh shit, I'm never touching a piano again" emotion). YMMV


Shaka, I have to disagree, you have heard Tatum play Yesterdays right? Talk about infusing a song (admittedly that particular song is infused from the start, to Gershowitz's credit) with feeling and invoking an emotional response.

I was just listening to Yesterdays on youtube and I picked a random Tatum recording that was linked at the side. To me, it is clear that no criticism of Tatum in this thread stands after listening to recordings like this;



And just in case Noah hasn't seen it, Yesterdays;


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#2202178 - 06/17/10 01:29 AM Re: "God is in the House" ! [Re: SK]
Kayvon Offline
Gold Member

Registered: 05/03/05
Posts: 618
Loc: London
Originally Posted By: SK
The best possible recordings of Tatum are from Zenph Studio (Linwood linked this site ages ago) They converted audio of his playing to midi, with an acoustic piano playing it back before a live audience:

http://www.zenph.com/mp3/Zenph-Tiger-Rag-Tatum-1933-outtake.mp3


I disagree, there's something a little creepy to me with those Zenph recordings. Give me the crackly lo-fi recordings, by all means I'd like those original recordings cleaned up but I still prefer them to the Zenph ones. There's also the issue of if Art was playing the piano they recorded the second time round, in the different atmosphere, who's to say he wouldn't play differently?

I'm not dismissing the technology completely, it could be very useful for some recordings but for me the old Tatum stuff cleaned up will do fine.

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#2202183 - 06/17/10 01:57 AM Re: "God is in the House" ! [Re: Kayvon]
cyborg Offline
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Registered: 03/26/10
Posts: 113
Loc: Italy
there are no Gods - just infidels...

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#2202185 - 06/17/10 02:17 AM Re: "God is in the House" ! [Re: cyborg]
Kayvon Offline
Gold Member

Registered: 05/03/05
Posts: 618
Loc: London
Originally Posted By: cyborg
there are no Gods - just infidels...


Sure, jazz pianists got that sussed too;



That recording is sped up a bit mind.

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#2202364 - 06/17/10 11:23 AM Re: "God is in the House" ! [Re: Kayvon]
NoahZark Offline
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Registered: 11/06/05
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Loc: Maryland, USA
Originally Posted By: Kayvon
I was just listening to Yesterdays on youtube and I picked a random Tatum recording that was linked at the side. To me, it is clear that no criticism of Tatum in this thread stands after listening to recordings like this;



And just in case Noah hasn't seen it, Yesterdays;



Well, for what it's worth, I enjoyed both of those performances considerably more than the original posted recording of Tea For Two. Still, both have elements of the issue that I identified. Then again, I did confess to being a Philistine, right?

Also, I think the point about "historical context" is very important and one that I failed to appreciate. That said, certain music for me stands the test of time and doesn't require "historical context" to retain its significance/relevance. The greats of classical music come to mind (Bach, Mozart, Brahms, Beethoven, Chopin, Dvorak).

Anyway, as is always the case with the jazz greats (and particularly in the case of Art Tatum), I can appreciate the technical abilities. It's just the musical abilities that sometimes escape my admittedly limited sensibilities.

Happy to be ignored here. I really know not of what I speak.

Noah

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#2202422 - 06/17/10 01:29 PM Re: "God is in the House" ! [Re: NoahZark]
ProfD Offline
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Originally Posted By: NoahZark
Anyway, as is always the case with the jazz greats (and particularly in the case of Art Tatum), I can appreciate the technical abilities. It's just the musical abilities that sometimes escape my admittedly limited sensibilities.

Happy to be ignored here. I really know not of what I speak.

No need to be ignored bro. Your sensibilities are fine and views have been shared by jazz musicians too.

Tatum isn't required listening when it comes to jazz piano. In fact, there should be a warning label on his recordings. laugh cool
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"The greatest thing you'll ever learn, is just to love and be loved in return."--E. Ahbez "Nature Boy"

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#2202430 - 06/17/10 01:52 PM Re: "God is in the House" ! [Re: ProfD]
Meisenhower Offline
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Registered: 05/18/09
Posts: 1369
Loc: Sausalito, CA & Detroit, MI
Originally Posted By: ProfD

Tatum isn't required listening when it comes to jazz piano. In fact, there should be a warning label on his recordings. laugh cool


You mean something like "please don't try this at home", or what about

"the following contains recordings performed either by gods or under the supervision of gods. Accordingly, KC and it's publishers must insist that no one attempt to recreate or re-enact any activity found in the recording contained, as said attempts can be dangerous to pianistic ego and overall musical self worth."
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#2202432 - 06/17/10 01:59 PM Re: "God is in the House" ! [Re: Meisenhower]
ProfD Offline
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Registered: 05/11/06
Posts: 9905
Loc: Wash DC Area
Originally Posted By: meisenhower
Originally Posted By: ProfD

Tatum isn't required listening when it comes to jazz piano. In fact, there should be a warning label on his recordings. laugh cool


You mean something like "please don't try this at home", or what about

"the following contains recordings performed either by gods or under the supervision of gods. Accordingly, KC and it's publishers must insist that no one attempt to recreate or re-enact any activity found in the recording contained, as said attempts can be dangerous to pianistic ego and overall musical self worth."

thu

Of course, it would list potential side effects i.e. GAS withdrawal, gear selling, inability to touch a piano for X hours after listening, etc. grin cool
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PD

"The greatest thing you'll ever learn, is just to love and be loved in return."--E. Ahbez "Nature Boy"

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#2202433 - 06/17/10 02:05 PM Re: "God is in the House" ! [Re: ProfD]
cyborg Offline
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Registered: 03/26/10
Posts: 113
Loc: Italy
Originally Posted By: ProfD
Originally Posted By: meisenhower
Originally Posted By: ProfD

Tatum isn't required listening when it comes to jazz piano. In fact, there should be a warning label on his recordings. laugh cool


You mean something like "please don't try this at home", or what about

"the following contains recordings performed either by gods or under the supervision of gods. Accordingly, KC and it's publishers must insist that no one attempt to recreate or re-enact any activity found in the recording contained, as said attempts can be dangerous to pianistic ego and overall musical self worth."

thu

Of course, it would list potential side effects i.e. GAS withdrawal, gear selling, inability to touch a piano for X hours after listening, etc. grin cool


not in my case, as I admire Art technique I don't like his style at all. I'd say - he plays too many notes cool

p.s.
I'd definitely cut a few...

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#2202442 - 06/17/10 02:28 PM Re: "God is in the House" ! [Re: cyborg]
Meisenhower Offline
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Registered: 05/18/09
Posts: 1369
Loc: Sausalito, CA & Detroit, MI
Originally Posted By: cyborg

not in my case, as I admire Art technique I don't like his style at all. I'd say - he plays too many notes cool

p.s.
I'd definitely cut a few...


I'm just guessin' Cy, but I think if you tried to play any of Tatum's material, you would simply have to "cut a few" notes out.

After all, less is less.

rolleyes

At least you admire Art's technique . . . . always a step in the right direction!! His "style" is . . . well . . . . "stylish" and maybe in time you'll come to appreciate it for what it is. Pure unadulterated genius!
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