15/09/2019: “8 Humoresques, Op. 101, B. 187: No. 7. Poco lento e grazioso in G flat major” by Art Tatum/Antonin Dvorak

I wasn’t entirely clear how to credit this one. The piece was composed by Dvorak in 1894, but Art Tatum’s version is very different in character – much less reverent, for one thing.

For that reason, Tatum’s version was divisive for contemporaneous critics. However, in retrospect, his key role in the creation of Jazz music has been recognised. His innovative style, ripping down the staid structures laid out before him in favour of highly idiosyncratic piano playing.

Art Tatum adds a few nonsensical flourishes in, which brighten the piece up considerably. It’s clear that his technical ability is incredible. He uses the piano like a canvas, painting huge splashes of sonic colour instead of the dainty strokes of the original. It’s bombastic and brilliant!

There’s a great argument to be made that the 1894 original arrangement has miles more class – it’s more magnificent, more serene, more beautiful.

But this version is far more fun…

The Art Tatum version played in the 1930s. It’s hard to pin it down more than that.

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