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..."
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.
Personnel: Art Tatum (piano).
Recording information: Beverley Hills, CA (04/16/1950/07/03/1955).
Editor: Peter Pullman.
Photographer: Herman Leonard.
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.