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En and play until daybreak Lester also reveals that Tatum was generous with younger players but his extraordinary technical brilliance often devastated them No less a talent than Oscar Peterson remembers that after first hearing Tatum I gave up the piano for two solid months and I had crying fits at night And Les Paul remarked that after hearing Tatum for the first time he uit piano completely and began playing guitar Perhaps most important Lester provides a thorough knowledgeable discussion of Tatum's music from his early influences such as stride pianist Fats Waller to his mature style in which Liszt Rachmaninoff Debussy Waller and Earl Hines all became grist for his harmonic mill From unexceptional origins in Toledo Ohio Art Tatum evolved into a world class musician whose importance in jazz is comparable to Louis Armstrong and Charlie Parker and whose command of the piano captured the admiration of Horowitz and Paderewski Too Marvelous For Words is the first full portrait of this extraordinary musical geni.

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Too Marvelous for Words The Life and Genius of Art Tatum

Art Tatum defined the limits of the possible in jazz piano Gunther Schuller called Tatum's playing a marvel of perfection His deep in the keys full piano sonority the tone and touch control in pyrotechnical passagesare miracles of performance Whitney Balliett wrote no pianist has ever hit notes beautifully Each one no matter how fast the tempo was light and complete and resonant like the letters on a finely printed page His famous runs have been compared to the arc left against the night sky by a Fourth of July sparkler And to have heard him play one musician said was as awe inspiring as to have seen the Grand Canyon or Halley's Comet Now in Too Marvelous For Words James Lester provides the first full length biography of the greatest virtuoso performer in the history of jazz Before this volume little was known about Tatum even among jazz afficionados What were his origins who taught him and who provided early pianistic influences how did he break into the jazz field what role did he play in the development of.

James Lester ↠ 5 Summary

Other jazz players and what was he like when he wasn't playing To answer these uestions Lester has conducted almost a hundred interviews for this book with surviving family childhood friends schoolteachers and the famous jazz musicians who played with him or knew him Lester creates a memorable portrait of this uniue musician and of the vibrant jazz world of the 1930s and 1940s capturing the complexity and vitality of this remarkable performer Tatum who was virtually blind suffering between 70% and 90% visual impairment emerges as cheerful fun loving energetic and out going with none of the demonic self destructiveness that seemed to haunt such jazz greats as Charlie Parker or Billie Holiday He often joked about his blindness but did not like it mentioned as a handicap and preferred to pre plan his entrance to the piano in a club rather than have someone lead him there He was simply inexhaustible and had a life long habit of staying up all night after a gig usually seeking an after hours club in which to list.

2 thoughts on “Too Marvelous for Words The Life and Genius of Art Tatum

  1. says:

    This short but action packed biography of the greatest piano player of the 20th century arguably was a thorough education on the history of jazz from strideragtime to be bopSo many of the stories and superlatives

  2. says:

    Probably the best biography that can be written about Tatum given our agonizing lack of information about himLester's biography appears as comprehensive as it could be but inevitably leaves us wanting to know about this eni