Art Tatum – The 1953 Chicago Blue Note Jazz Recordings

Jewels In the Treasure Box // Resonnance Records – Street date April 20th2024
Art Tatum - The 1953 Chicago Blue Note Jazz Recordings

We are in 1953, in the evening, you push the door of the Blue Note Jazz Club in Chicago, and that’s where, with wide eyes, you witness Art Tatum’s concert, accompanied by guitarist Everett Barksdale and bassist Slam Stewart. This is precisely what the Resonance Records label offers, having retrieved and dusted off tapes from that era. Available in the form of 3 LPs or 3 CDs of your choice, of course, the entirely analog sound of the time preserves its qualities and flaws: deep bass and crystal-clear highs, paying little attention to the mids. However, this maintains all the charm of that period and allows you to enjoy the masterful performance of Art Tatum on the piano, as well as hearing his voice between some tracks.

This is indeed a collector’s item, and I know there are many of you out there, which helps keep the history of jazz alive and introduce it to the young generations of musicians who will be tomorrow’s professionals. There is much to learn from Art Tatum’s compositions, arrangements, and improvisations, his way of ordering notes and making them swing. These recordings have been transferred from the original reels and mastered for LP and CD by engineer Matthew Lutthans (who also worked on Resonance’s Grammy-nominated Nat King Cole release in 2019, “Hittin’ the Ramp”). With nearly 3 hours of unreleased music from Art Tatum, captured in an intimate setting at the peak of his talent with his long-time trio, this luxurious limited edition set of 3 LPs (and 3 CDs) at 180 grams, with a gatefold cover, includes rare photos and memorabilia from Herman Leonard, Bob Parent, and the Holzfeind family archives (owners of the Blue Note Jazz Club in Chicago); as well as liner notes from Columbia University professor and author, Brent Hayes Edwards; and statements from Ahmad Jamal, Sonny Rollins, Monty Alexander, ELEW, Spike Wilner, Johnny O’Neal, Michael Weiss, and Terry Gibbs.

I would tend to advise you, if you have the equipment, to choose the LP version. Indeed, the sound of the time will be less harsh and better suited to this recording; it is likely that the transition from analog to digital has resulted in some loss of sonic detail. Nevertheless, regardless of your choice, LPs or CDs, you will be fully satisfied to have the entirety of this incredible concert that maintains a beautiful energy from start to finish. The title that touched me the most is probably ‘Laura’—simple, beautiful, effective, and presented modestly by Art Tatum himself. There is something touching and poetic from that moment in the concert onwards, which I cannot explain, but where the artists seem to take flight to culminate in the ultimate track, ‘Would you Like To Take A Walk?’ where Art Tatum’s lyrical piano notes reach genius levels.

Art Tatum is one of those artists who made me love jazz at a very young age, fascinated by artists like Art, Ella, Sarah, Louis, and later Sonny Rollins, Miles, Zawinul, and even more recently David Sanborn, Kenny Garrett, Celine Bonacina, Lakecia Benjamin, and many others, whom I would probably need to write a book about to fully discuss. But today, it’s time to revisit Art Tatum… And what could be more beautiful and representative of his vast body of work than this concert?

Thierry De Clemensat
USA correspondent – Paris-Move and ABS magazine
Editor in chief Bayou Blue Radio, Bayou Blue News

PARIS-MOVE, March 29th 2024


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