Wonderful Tunes Provided By Friends. Wild Tangents Provided By Me.

Posts tagged ‘Art Tatum’

Art Tatum Plays Us Into 2011

I love Art Tatum! I’ve posted about him a few times on this blog and listened to him on You Tube quite a lot but I still haven’t bought any of his music. Looks like I have my second resolution for 2011 set! The first is this blog. I just finished a three month post every day run but I think I want to do 100 more days. Sorry dear readers, looks like you’re stuck hearing from me every day until April 11, 2011!  Yipee! Hearing my tired old stories day in and day out will never get old!

But let’s get back to the point. Here’s Art Tatum doing a number written by Benny Goodman, Edgar Sampson, Walter Hirsch and Clarence Profit called “Lullaby In Rhythm.”

My first dream of 2011 involved Jay Leno, the Mythbusters, and Kool-aid so I guess the lullaby gave me sweet dreams. I mean sure it had Leno in it but he was doing stand up and bombing so all in all I think it was a pretty good New Year omen.

Art Tatum and My Sloth Procrastination = Productivity

“The Jazz Giants Play Jerome Kern” is the album for today. All the songs that I’ve heard on this album are so great it might have been difficult to narrow down the selection. Luckily You Tube did the job for me. I was hoping to play one of the artists I hadn’t put on the thread yet. Unfortunately there weren’t many videos of them so I decided to play pianist Art Tatum’s version of “All The Things You Are.” I’ve only played him once before I think. He was mostly blind and all genius. Fats Waller once called him “a god.” He performed the song on a 1956 duet album with Ben Webster but this is a solo piece.

This has nothing whatsoever to do with today’s video but I think I have found the perfect way to finally start checking projects off my to do list. Apparently I must declare a weekend of complete sloth in order to get my rear in gear. It seems my natural inclination to procrastinate works even when the task at hand is sitting and snacking. I got loads of stuff done this weekend trying to avoid the dreaded popcorn and a movie hell I had planned for myself. I’m totally going to write a best selling self help book about this… tomorrow, after I make some popcorn and watch a couple movies.

Jerome Kern Songs

Jerome Kern’s career started in the early 1900’s and continued until his sudden death from brain hemorrhage in 1945. Here’s an interesting Kern fact: In 1915 he narrowly missed dying on the doomed ship Lusitania. He’d stayed up late the night before playing poker and he overslept and missed the boat. He still left us too soon but I’m happy we had the extra three decades of wonderful songs!

Here’s trumpeter Clifford Brown performing “Smoke Gets In Your Eyes.” It’s an absolutely beautiful rendition.

This is from the musical “Roberta.” I watched the movie version a couple of nights ago and, even though it had Fred and Ginger as supporting characters, I was not a fan. Almost none of the songs had anything whatsoever to do with the plot. They just stopped everything for a lavish musical number. Thank heavens they did. I doubt I’d have made it through the whole thing otherwise. Thank you Jerome Kern via Fred and Ginger for making this one watchable!

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Next up is Sinatra with “The Song Is You.”

This song was written for the musical “Music In The Air” but it’s most commonly associated Frank Sinatra. They didn’t make this musical into a movie so I haven’t seen it. Folks may want to mark this on the calendar as the one and probably only time I have absolutely nothing to say. It’s just a nice song.

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Michael Buble’ “The Way You Look Tonight” because I haven’t put any of the “pretty kid” jazz singers up in a while.

I recently watched “Swing Time” too. Now that’s a musical! This one I will buy. Anyone familiar with the movie might be saying “But B, wasn’t it you who, just a month or so ago, got your knickers all in a twist over Bing in Black face? What about Fred’s ‘Bojangles Of Broadway’ Black face number? What are you some kind of giant hypocrite?” Well I have a sermon on the subject. I’m a liberal and a minority. It’s what we do. But I shan’t bore you with the details. Allow me to summarize: It’s different. Oh, and yes, I am a giant hypocrite.

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Next in line is “Nobody Else But Me” from the musical “Show Boat.” Here’s Dave McKenna with a really nice piano version.

I have never seen “Show Boat.” Shame on me. But I’ve found it streaming so I will remedy that soon. I’d like to see this number in context. I like the “love me, love my flaws” theme of the tune. After all, aren’t we all truly just searching for that special someone who will love us even after we’ve eaten the large combo burrito with extra pintos?

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Last is pianist Art Tatum with “Yesterdays.” Live footage of Art is apparently rare so I’m glad this is on You Tube. He’s dizzying and amazing.

This one was also in “Roberta.” Art Tatum’s version may have the power to dazzle but Irene Dunn made the number lethal. In the movie she sang it to her aging aunt and killed the poor woman instantly! I never trust sopranos. I bet that’s why they named that Mafia show after them.

Art Tatum

NOTE: My friend had made a comment about a trip to The Farmer’s Market. Amazing place, do go if you’re ever in LA.

“Begin the Beguine” is a Cole Porter composition that was first introduced by June Knight in the Broadway musical Jubilee. The Beguine is a Latin dance similar to the rumba. I’d always wondered about that but apparently never enough to Google it until now. The song was also featured in the movie “Broadway Melody of 1940”. Fred Astaire and Eleanor Powell did a fantastic dance number to the piece.

I had heard of Art Tatum but I’d never listened to him play before. He’s amazing. He was mostly blind and he died young. There’s not much written about him and not much video footage exists either. He was in the 1947 movie “The Fabulous Dorsey Boys” so I found it streaming online and watched it too just to see the man at work. Here’s a YouTube slide show with Art doing “Begin the Beguine”

I try to keep it family friendly on this thread so let me just say if you are a foodie, you are definitely going to need a cigarette after a visit to the LA Farmer’s Market! I am a bit of a foodie and I’d be more of one if there wasn’t so much clean up involved. I regret that I couldn’t spend more time at the Farmer’s Market when I lived close but most of the time I lived there I didn’t have a car. In LA you go nowhere without a car!

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