Art Tatum — Capitol Records
This dude right here.
The baddest motherfucker.
The bridge that connects all things piano.
Mind-blowing technique and harmonic sophistication. When Les Paul heard him play he quit piano and switched to guitar. He made the great Oscar Peterson doubt his own tremendous piano ability. The Immortal Charlie Parker took a job washing dishes just so he could listen to Art play.
Nearly blind and often drunk he dominated the keys with humility and magnanimousness. He played stride piano with impressionistic chord voicings, bebop reharmonizations, and bitonal explorations. I could gush on but IMO he was the G.O.A.T.
I love especially how he improvised like a composer, creating counterpoints accompaniments pushing and pulling the rhythm while always referencing the melody of the original song.
This album features solo and trio pieces which also include the incredible Slam Stewart on bass with his signature bowed-while-singing solo style.
Art only lived to be 47 years old. His love for alcohol and camaraderie took its toll eventually. If you can ever find a record of him I suggest you scoop it up and be prepared to have your mind blown by some pianistic jazz brilliance.