Art Tatum

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"God is in the house" That is how most pianists all seem to regard Art Tatum. The rest of the world takes a slightly more moderate view, but there is no doubt that Tatum was a virtuoso of stupendous technical power. Arthur "Art" Tatum was born in 1910. Mr. Tatum was, for all intents and purposes, blind. A child prodigy who studied piano at the Toledo School of Music, his whole life consisted of music. Art's style was, at bottom, a form of stride piano and he acknowledged Fats Waller as his greatest influence.

In the book, The Music of Black Americans, Ms. Southern states that Art "developed his personal style by listening to piano rolls, particularly those of Mr. Waller. His style also synthesized the "horn" piano of Hines and the delicacy of Wilson and the stride piano of Harlem." In the early years of his career he played with groups and accompanied both jazz and blues singers.

Eventually Art played mainly as a solo artist or accompanied by bass and guitar. Although he was a perfectly competent band pianist in his earlier years, it was as a solo performer that Art worked the best. Like many virtuoso musicians of the 1940's who made their living playing in nightclubs, he possessed an enormous repertoire.

Art's influence can be found everywhere, not just in technique but in the whole approach of modern pianists to harmony. He also proved to be one of the most influential jazz pianists in history, particularly for solo pianists. Arthur Tatum died at the age of 46 in 1956 of _________(?).