Art Tatum's Historical Recording Garners JJA Jazz Awards Nomination


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The Jazz Journalists Association has nominated Art Tatum's Piano Starts Here: Live at The Shrine for Best Historical Recording/Reissue of 2009. The Tatum disc is the second recording in a series of discs, using technology developed by Zenph Studios, that represent a milestone in the history of recorded music. The original recording, an incomparable jazz album that highlights the mastery of this singular musician, has been in print for 50 years, but had been marred by nominal sound quality and other imperfections -- until this recent release which transports listeners back to the moment of creation and enables them to experience Tatum's playing as if they were in the room when the original recordings were made.

Sony Masterworks and Zenph Studios re-recorded Tatum's 1949 concert at The Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles. They placed their piano on the same stage in the same spot that Tatum played, and recorded a flawless re-performance on modern equipment before a live audience. The album was released by Sony Masterworks in June 2008 and has been enthusiastically received by the critics. “This is a crucially important release in musical history," wrote Stereophile magazine. Gary Giddins, in JazzTimes, said “it blew my socks off." JazzReview.com observed “If you buy only one solo jazz piano recording this (or any) year, make it Piano Starts Here." It was a 2008 Village Voice Jazz Poll winner and a 2008 JazzTimes Year in Review highlight of multiple writers and editors. It was the only CD featured in Keyboard Magazine's holiday gift guide of late 2008.

The Zenph re-performance corrects several problems that appeared on the original album. For one thing, the previous playback speed was too slow on 12 of the 13 tracks. After the fix, you hear that Tatum actually played faster than has been thought.

And, thanks to Tatum discographer Arnold Laubich, Zenph has restored about two minutes of lost material. The original album omits excerpts from Gershwin's Porgy and Bess, which Tatum performed at the concert during the track now titled “The Man I Love." Zenph also fixed an 80-millisecond tape glitch during “Humoresque" that mars the timing on the original album.

Zenph's unique process turns audio recordings into data representing the notes and how they were played, virtual musicians whose re-performances precisely replicate their playing in the original recordings. Zenph captures their musical nuances, with details about the pedal actions, volume, and articulations in micro-second timings. This new data was played back on a state-of-the-art Yamaha Disklavier Pro concert grand piano. The process results in the production of pristine new renderings that transcend the limitations of the original recording process.

Zenph's work was named one of the “Best Ideas of the Year" by The New York Times Magazine and has been featured in The Wall Street Journal, The Los Angeles Times, The Washington Post, Stereophile, The Absolute Sound, National Public Radio, the CBC, and the BBC.

The Sony Masterworks' disc is a hybrid surround-sound SACD/CD disc, which plays on all traditional CD players and sounds magnificent on Super Audio (SACD) players. It also includes a binaural version of the re-performance that provides an immersive experience. When listened to with headphones, it replicates what Tatum would have heard while he sat on the piano bench.

Sony Masterworks assembled its top producers and engineers for the Tatum project, including Steve Epstein, five-time Grammy Award winner for “Producer of the Year," Richard King, a three-time Grammy winner, and Gus Skinas, renowned for his expertise in high-resolution surround-sound recording. Piano voicer Marc Wienert is the main subject of the acclaimed book Grand Obsession by Perri Knize.

Extended details of the songs, personnel, recording, and Tatum's life can be found at www.zenph.com/tatum.

About Sony Masterworks
RCA Red Seal, Sony Classical, deutsche harmonia mundi, Masterworks Broadway and Masterworks Jazz are labels of SONY BMG Masterworks. For email updates and information regarding RCA Red Seal, Sony Classical, deutsche harmonia mundi, Masterworks Broadway and Masterworks Jazz artists, promotions, tours and repertoire, please visit www.sonymasterworks.com.

About Zenph Studios
Zenph Studios, Inc. is a software company based in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina. The company's focus is building software for understanding and re-creating precisely how musicians perform. Sony BMG Masterworks began issuing a series of Zenphs re-performances in 2007, which feature modern recordings of classic performances with vastly improved sound from perspectives tailored for surround-sound and headphone listening. Zenph's processes create data representing performances identical to past recordings by legendary artists. Whether on stage or via new recordings, the results offer astonishing fidelity. For more information about Zenph Studios, visit www.zenph.com.

This story appears courtesy of All About Jazz Publicity.
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