Art Tatum

Art Tatum was born in Toledo, Ohio and despite being blind in one eye and only partially sighted in the other he became arguably the greatest jazz piano player who ever lived.

He came from a musical family and when younger had some formal training at the Toledo School of Music, however he was largely self-taught. His teacher their recognized his talents and tried to steer him towards as a career as a classical concert pianist. Tatum was more interested in the music of Fats Waller, which would be a strong influence on his music. At 18 he was playing interludes at a local radio station and within a short period of time he had his own show. In 1932 he was heard by the singer Adelaide Hall who brought him to New York as her accompanist. One year later he made his first recordings, among which was “Tiger Rag”, though a 1932 test pressing of the the same song eventually appeared. This song which features breakneck tempo and rippling left- hand and right-hand cascades and crashing bass notes had every pianist in the country amazed by his astonishing dexterity.

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