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Art Tatum

Born October 13th 1909 in Toledo, Ohio
Died November 5th 1956 in Los Angeles

Arthur Tatum Jr. was an American jazz pianist..

Widely considered one of the greatest jazz pianists of all time, he influenced generations of jazz pianists. His performances were hailed for their technical proficiency and imagination, which set a new standard for jazz piano virtuosity.

Critic Scott Yanow wrote, "Tatum's quick reflexes and boundless imagination kept his improvisations filled with fresh (and sometimes futuristic) ideas that put him way ahead of his contemporaries."

Tatum built upon stride and classical piano influences to develop a novel and unique piano style. He introduced a strong, swinging pulse to jazz piano, highlighted with cadenzas that swept across the entire keyboard. His interpretations of popular songs were exuberant, sophisticated and intricate. Jazz soloing in the 1930s had not yet evolved into the free-ranging extended improvisations that flowered in the bebop era of the 1940s, 1950s and beyond. But jazz musicians were beginning to incorporate improvisation while playing over the chord changes of tunes, and Tatum was a leader in that movement.

He sometimes improvised lines that presaged bebop and later jazz genres, although generally not venturing far from the original melodic line. Tatum embellished melodic lines, however, with an array of signature devices and runs that appeared throughout his repertoire. As he matured, Tatum became more adventurous in abandoning the written melody and expanding his improvisations.

"There is no such thing as a wrong note."

Art Tatum

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