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Who is Art Tatum, and how did he he contribute to jazz?

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enotes | Valedictorian

Posted January 30, 2014 at 10:42 PM via web

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Who is Art Tatum, and how did he he contribute to jazz?

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted January 31, 2014 at 12:26 PM (Answer #1)

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Known for his piece "Tea for Two," Art Tatum was a virtuoso pianist who was a great improviser. He also set a higher standard for manual dexterity, marveling such greats as Count Basie, who called him the "eighth wonder of the world," and Conductor Leopold Stokowski, composer Sergei Rachmaninov and pianist Vladimir Horowitz, who was both impressed with Tatum's dexterity and his creative powers.

Because of his marvelous skills, there were those who did not classify Tatum as a jazz musician. Perhaps, with his impressive imagination, he is best described as playing variations of the stride piano style, in which the left hand usually plays a four-beat pulse with a single bass note, octave, seventh or tenth interval on the first and third beats, then a chord on the second and fourth beats. On occasion, this pattern is reversed by putting the chord on the downbeat and bass note(s) on the upbeat. Tatum used to enjoy adding more complex harmony into his jazz. 

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