- Number of Discs: 2
- Released: July 30, 1996
- Label: Polygram Records
New York Times (Publisher) - 7/28/96, Sec.2, p.30
"...document[s] probably the greatest instrumental talent in the history of jazz at the peak of his inventive powers....amid a small and appreciative group gathered around the piano, Tatum seems freed from any imperative except to enjoy himself, and we hear him taking completely different approaches to songs he had played...many times..."
Tracks on Disc 1:
- 1.Just Like A Butterfly (That's Caught In The Rain)
- 3.I Cover The Waterfront
- 4.Body And Soul
- 5.Someone To Watch Over Me
- 6.In A Sentimental Mood
- 8.Willow Weep For Me
- 9.Wrap Your Troubles In Dreams
- 10.Makin' Whoopee - (previously unreleased, incomplete)
- 11.Memories Of You
- 12.September Song
- 13.Begin The Beguine
- 14.I'll Never Be The Same
- 15.Over The Rainbow
- 16.Love For Sale
- 17.My Heart Stood Still
- 18.Sweet Lorraine
- 19.Louise - (previously unreleased, incomplete)
Tracks on Disc 2:
- 1.Don't Blame Me
- 2.There Will Never Be Another You
- 3.Without A Song
- 4.Moon Song
- 5.You Took Advantage Of Me
- 6.Little Man, You've Had A Busy Day
- 7.Danny Boy
- 8.Some Other Spring - (previously unreleased)
- 9.Love For Sale - (previously unreleased)
- 10.Mighty Like A Rose - (previously unreleased)
- 11.Sweet Lorraine - (previously unreleased)
- 12.Someone To Watch Over Me - (previously unreleased)
- 13.Mine - (previously unreleased)
- 14.Too Marvelous For Words
- 15.Jitterbug Waltz
- 16.Mr. Freddie Blues
- 17.Body And Soul - (previously unreleased)
- 18.Yesterdays - (previously unreleased)
- 19.Tea For Two / Honeysuckle Rose - (previously unreleased)
- 20.Would You Like To Take A Walk? / After You've Gone - (previously unreleased)
Solo performer: Art Tatum (piano).
Recorded live at the home of Ray Heindorf in Beverly Hills, California between 1950 and 1955. Includes liner notes by James Lester, as well as excerpts from a conversation between Hank Jones, Adam Makowicz, and Lou Stein.
20TH CENTURY PIANO GENIUS was previously released as two separate LPs, PIANO DISCOVERIES on 20th Century Fox (FTS 3029, 3033) and PIECES OF EIGHT on Smithsonian (R 029). It includes previously-unreleased material from those same sessions.
There is virtually no pianist, living or dead, who has possessed same amount of technical facility as Art Tatum. The Franz List of jazz, Tatum was known for his ability to play jaw-dropping runs up and down the piano. In fact, his skill was so amazing that he often sounded like two or more pianists playing at once.
On 20TH CENTURY PIANO GENIUS, the legendary pianist performs solo on all 39 tracks. Recorded informally in a Hollywood, California home, this disc highlights the perfectionism and sheer intensity of Tatum's musicianship. Each selection is expertly played, and the din of glasses clanking and people chatting between tunes actually adds intimacy to the recording; this is not some pristine studio endeavor, it's a listening party. Musical gems are found throughout, but the swinging "Love for Sale" and the stride-influenced "Body and Soul" are standout tracks. The CD package also contains insightful commentary on the brilliance of Tatum from pianists Hank Jones, Adam Makowicz, and Lou Stein.