THE JAZZ INVASION
Collect all the t-shirts from the historic show THE JAZZ INVASION. Be apart of the MOVEMENT that is changing the face of history.
Art Tatum 005
Art Tatum 004
Art Tatum 003
Art Tatum 002
Art Tatum 001
Growing up, Tatum drew inspiration principally from Fats Waller and James P. Johnson, who exemplified the stride piano style, and to some extent from the more modern Earl Hines, six years Tatum's senior. Tatum identified Waller as his biggest influence, while pianist Teddy Wilson and saxophonist Eddie Barefield suggested that Hines was one of his favorite jazz pianists. Another influence was pianist Lee Sims, who did not play jazz, but did use chord voicings and an orchestral approach (i.e. encompassing a full sound instead of highlighting one or more timbres that appeared in Tatum's playing. In 1927, after winning an amateur competition, Tatum began playing on Toledo radio station WSPD during interludes in a morning shopping program and soon had his own daily program. After regular club dates, Tatum often visited after-hours clubs to be with other musicians; he enjoyed listening to other pianists and preferred to play after all the others had finished. He frequently played for hours on end into the dawn; his radio show was scheduled for noon, allowing him time to rest before evening performances.
He learned tunes from the radio, records, and by copying piano roll recordings. In an interview as an adult, Tatum denied the story that his playing ability developed because he had attempted to reproduce piano roll recordings that, without his knowing, had been made by two performers. His interest in sports was lifelong, and he displayed an encyclopedic memory for baseball statistics.
Tatum first attended Jefferson School in Toledo, then moved to the School for the Blind in Columbus, Ohio, late in 1924. After probably less than a year there, he transferred to the Toledo School of Music. Overton G. Rainey, who gave him formal piano lessons in the classical tradition at either the Jefferson School or the Toledo School of Music, was also visually impaired, did not improvise, and discouraged his students from playing jazz. Based on this history, it is reasonable to assume that Tatum was largely self-taught as a pianist. By the time he was a teenager, Tatum was asked to play at various social events, and he was probably being paid to play in Toledo clubs from around 1924–25.
During 1928–29, the radio program was re-broadcast nationwide by the Blue Network. Tatum also began to play in larger Midwestern cities outside his home town, including Cleveland, Columbus, and Detroit.
As word of Tatum spread, national performers passing through Toledo, including Duke Ellington and Fletcher Henderson, visited clubs where he was playing. They were impressed by what they heard: from near the start of the pianist's career, "his accomplishment was of a different order from what most people, from what even musicians, had ever heard. It made musicians reconsider their definitions of excellence, of what was possible", his biographer reported. Although Tatum was encouraged by comments from these and other established musicians, he felt that he was not yet, in the late 1920s, musically ready to relocate to New York City, which was the center of the jazz world and was home to many of the pianists he had listened to while growing up.
Accounts vary on whether Tatum's parents played any musical instruments, but it is likely that he was exposed at an early age to church music, including through the Grace Presbyterian Church that his parents attended. He also began playing the piano from a young age, playing by ear and aided by an excellent memory and sense of pitch. Other musicians reported that he had perfect pitch. As a child he was sensitive to the piano's intonation and insisted it be tuned often.
Tatum's mother, Mildred Hoskins, was born in Martinsville, Virginia, around 1890, and was a domestic worker. His father, Arthur Tatum Sr., was born in Statesville, North Carolina, and had steady employment as a mechanic. In 1909, they made their way from North Carolina to begin a new life in Toledo, Ohio. The couple had four children; Art was the oldest to survive, and was born in Toledo on October 13, 1909. He was followed by Arline nine years later and by Karl after another two years Karl went to college and became a social worker. The Tatum family was regarded as conventional and church-going.
From infancy, Tatum had impaired vision. Several explanations for this have been posited, most involving cataracts. As a result of eye operations, by the age of 11 Tatum could see objects close to him and perhaps distinguish colors. Any benefits from these procedures were reversed, however, when he was assaulted, probably in his early twenties. The attack left him completely blind in his left eye and with very limited vision in his right. Despite this, there are multiple accounts of him enjoying playing cards and pool.
Tatum grew up in Toledo, Ohio, where he began playing piano professionally and had his own radio program, rebroadcast nationwide, while still in his teens. He left Toledo in 1932 and had residencies as a solo pianist at clubs in major urban centers including New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles. In that decade, he settled into a pattern that he followed for most of his career – paid performances followed by long after-hours playing, all accompanied by prodigious consumption of alcohol.
He was said to be more spontaneous and creative in these after-hours venues, and although the drinking did not negatively affect his playing, it did damage his health.
In the 1940s, Tatum led a commercially successful trio for a short time and began playing in more formal jazz concert settings, including at Norman Granz-produced Jazz at the Philharmonic events. His popularity diminished towards the end of the decade, as he continued to play in his own style, ignoring the rise of bebop.
Arthur Tatum Jr. ( October 13, 1909 – November 5, 1956) was an American jazz pianist who is widely regarded as one of the greatest in his field. From early in his career, Tatum's technical ability was regarded by fellow musicians as extraordinary. Many pianists attempted to copy him; others questioned their own skills after encountering him, and some even switched instruments in response. In addition to being acclaimed for his virtuoso technique, Tatum extended the vocabulary and boundaries of jazz piano far beyond his initial stride influences, and established new ground in jazz through innovative use of reharmonization, voicing, and bitonality.
Tatum's first solo piano job in New York was at the Onyx Club, which was later reported to have paid him "$45 a week and free whiskey". The Onyx was one of the first jazz clubs to open on 52nd Street, which became the city's focal point for public jazz performance for more than a decade. He recorded his first four released solo sides, for Brunswick Records, in March 1933: "St. Louis Blues", "Sophisticated Lady", "Tea for Two", and "Tiger Rag".
After his arrival in New York, Tatum participated in a cutting contest at Morgan's bar in Harlem, with the established stride piano masters – Johnson, Waller, and Willie "The Lion" Smith. Standard contest pieces included Johnson's "Harlem Strut" and "Carolina Shout" and Waller's "Handful of Keys". Tatum played his arrangements of "Tea for Two" and "Tiger Rag". Reminiscing about Tatum's debut, Johnson said, "When Tatum played 'Tea for Two' that night I guess that was the first time I ever heard it really played." Tatum thus became the pre-eminent piano player in jazz.
This had changed by the time that vocalist Adelaide Hall, touring the United States with two pianists, heard Tatum play in Toledo in 1932 and recruited him: he took the opportunity to go to New York as part of her band. On August 5 that year, Hall and her band recorded two sides ("I'll Never Be the Same" and "Strange as It Seems") that were Tatum's first studio recordings. Two more sides with Hall followed five days later, as did a solo piano test-pressing of "Tea for Two" that was not released for several decades.