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Great Performances (on YouTube) - Art Tatum "Yesterdays"

April 23, 2010 By Geoffrey Morrison

Turns out, the piano does start here.

At first glance, what's impressive about Tatum's performance, and indeed his style and skill, is his right hand: clean, effortless runs at tremendous speed.

But it's not his right that's amazing, it's his left.

With his left hand he had the accuracy, dexterity and speed many pianists can't do with their right. And he does it with so little wasted motion, so little flash, that it almost seems fabricated. Yet with all the speed and quiet spectacle of that skill, underneath was near-perfect tempo. Truly awe inspiring.

Sadly, there is very little video footage of Tatum available. This recording, of Kern and Harbach's "Yesterdays," shows off much of his inimitable style.

And keep this in mind; throughout all those giant leaps of the hands, the speed trills and runs, the perfect stride of the left hand, Tatum was not only largely self taught, but born nearly blind.

This is one of my favorites, but the audio is a little messed up:
Art Tatum Plays Dvorak

It's not a video, but this clip of Tiger Rag is even more amazing.
Art Tatum "Tiger Rag"

For a real taste, though, pick up this album and be awed:
Art Tatum Piano Starts Here


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