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184

Art Tatum: The Group Masterpieces

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This week Night Lights pays a centennial tribute to jazz piano giant Art Tatum, whose immense virtuosic talent made it nearly impossible for other musicians to keep up with him. Near the end of his life Tatum recorded a series of albums with musicians such as Benny Carter and Ben Webster that provide an unparalleled opportunity to hear the pianist with colleagues that could, to varying degrees, hold their own with him. Still, it was Tatum who dominated the proceedings. “It was a game between us of ‘Can you top this?’” clarinetist Buddy DeFranco later recalled. “He’d play some astonishing figure and laugh, or turn and make a face at me over one shoulder…I think he could have outwitted Charlie Parker.”

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