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Reviewers: Tony Augarde [Editor], Steve Arloff, Nick Barnard, Pierre Giroux, Don Mather, Glyn Pursglove, George Stacy, Sam Webster, Jonathan Woolf

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Le Chant du Monde



1. Tea For Two
2. After You've Gone
3. Liza
4. Out Of Nowhere
5. Willow Weep For Me
6. Aunt Hagar's Blues
7. Dardanella
8. Sweet Lorraine
9. Blue Skies
10. Dancing In The Dark
11. Just One Of Those Things
12. Would You Like To Take A Walk?
13. Indiana
14. September Song
15. Louise
16. Dixieland Band
17. Night and Day
18. You Took Advantage On Me
19. This Can't Be Love
20. Love For Sale
1. In A Sentimental Mood
2. Blue Lou
3. Have You Met Miss Jones?
4. Too Marvellous For Words
5. Where Or When
6. Crazy Rhythm
7. Isn't It Romantic?
8. My Blue Heaven
9. Blues In C
10. I Won't Dance
11. The Moon Is Low
12. Moon Song
13. I Surrender Dear
14. Hallelujah
1. More Than You Know
2. Plaid
3. Trio Blues
4. Some Other Spring
5. I'll Never Be The Same
6. I Guess I'll Have To Change My Plan
7. If (They Made Me A King)
8. Just One Of Those Things
9. All The Things You Are
10. Gone With The Wind
11. Have You Met Miss Jones
12. My One And Only Love


When Art Tatum entered a club where Fats Waller was playing, Fats reportedly said "God is in the house tonight". Even though Art admitted that he learnt a lot from Waller, Tatum was still regarded as the supreme jazz pianist - an accolade which has not yet been surpassed. His astonishing technique was perhaps rivalled by such pianists as Oscar Peterson but it has never been outstripped.

You can hear the evidence in this triple-CD boxed set in a series called "Immortal Characters". The music speaks for itself - indeed, it has to, as the sleeve-notes are fairly basic. But the opening Tea For Two exhibits that amazing technique which enabled Tatum to achieve heights of imagination. There are the continual runs, the harmonic variations, the rhythmic daring, the driving stride and also a tongue-in-cheek humour which often took astounding liberties with tunes. Out Of Nowhere shows that his decorations were not just those famous runs (which, let's face it, he sometimes used to excess) but also trills and jumps up and down the keyboard

Many of the tracks are solos but many others are with his trio - a brilliant group which set the mould for later trios led by Nat "King" Cole and Oscar Peterson. Slam Stewart's hummed bass contributes some saucy solos to these sides. The first CD consists of solo and trio recordings. The second CD mostly contains solo tracks but there are also a couple of items from the delightful sessions with altoist Benny Carter and drummer Louie Bellson from 1954, and one other (Hallelujah) with Lionel Hampton and Buddy Rich from a year later. These prove that Tatum could be a valuable accompanist, although the strength of his backings could threaten to overwhelm soloists.

Hampton and Rich also turn up on the first track of CD3 but they sound even better on the immortal Plaid, which added trumpeter Harry Edison, guitarist Barney Kessel and bassist Red Callender to create one of the most swinging pieces I know. The next five tracks are by a trio with Red Callender and Jo Jones, although these are not as unified as the earlier trio recordings.

The final four tracks are from the classic sessions that Tatum recorded with saxist Ben Webster in 1956. Ben's smooth, sensuous tenor sax fitted in perfectly with Tatum's florid style.

This boxed set looks very enticing and, indeed, it contains many good things. Yet the compilers have missed a trick by including less than 64 minutes of music on each disc, which is rather stingy in these days when you can get nearer to 80 minutes on a CD.

Tony Augarde

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