Big Hairy Monster!
(All Album Reviews by Big Hairy Monster!)
Sticking to my propensity to review recordings that are a little outside the normal bounds of prog, I submit something completely different. If you are a fan of great keyboard playing, particularly jazz piano, check this one out.
While many threads pass through PE discussing the merits of fusion, the experimentation of Miles Davis, or the quality of Bela Fleck, I have yet to see anyone mention Art Tatum. If there was ever a top-5 master piano player (dare I say innovator), Tatum would in my book be in the top two or three. Nearly blind since birth and mostly self-taught, this man was a monster...and easily a better improviser than any piano player in prog-rock or fusion history.
This recording is just Art and his piano, improvising early standards in a way that is unique to Tatum. Part jazz, part ragtime, part classical. There are no overdubs here...even though it sounds like two or three piano players at some points, it is one man with two hands. In short, the man flat rips. If you think Keith Emerson is the greatest piano player around, listen to Tatum. Put on "Maple Leaf Rag" by ELP, then put on "The Shout" or "Liza - Take D" by Tatum -- you'll see what I mean. These pieces are like the speed metal of ragtime jazz piano.
As a word of warning, I will say that the recording quality of this disk is a little uneven...after all, these songs were made in the early 30s. There are no bad recordings here, just some background tape hiss across maybe 5 or 6 of the songs. The quality of the performances more than make up for this.
As I said this isn't prog in the normal sense of "prog-rock", but if you are a patient listener and want something completely different in your collection, check this one out.
Lastly, this is the only disk by Tatum that I currently have...if anyone else in PE-land can point me in the direction of other good Tatum disks, please let me know.
As AMG states, "His ability still scares modern pianists." Oh, do I ever agree!