Art Tatum was the greatest jazz pianist of all time. He pioneered in the areas of stride and swing. He was noted for his incredible virtuosity, his inventive harmonic language, and his improvisations on works by Chopin. A mentor and friend of the famous Oscar Peterson, he spent a lot of time playing at the Onyx Club on 52nd Street in New York. His audience often contained such luminaries of the piano as Vladimir Horowitz, Walter Gieseking, Leopold Godowsky. Sadly, he died in 1956, far too early.

My Everything user name is Art Tatum, as you can see. Unfortunately, I am nowhere near as great a pianist as this man. My user name (both here and on Slashdot) is a tribute to this legendary pianist.

Art Tatum had an incredible ear. A famous legend is that on demand, someone could throw a random combination of coins on a hard surface, and the legendary pianist was able to tell what combination of pennies, nickels, dimes, and quarters were thrown.

His famous rendition of Tiger Rag perplexes even the most seasoned concert pianist.

Additionally, Art Tatum was blind in one eye, and had poor sight in his other eye. He learned to read music using both glasses and braille.

It is said that Tatum was at his finest during informal social gatherings at off hours. In The Jazz Makers, Orrin Keepnews writes, "It is generally accepted ... that his most formidable playing was displayed only in circumstances and before audiences largely of his own choosing. After hours a man played strictly as he pleased (when you're not being paid for your services, there are, after all, certain privileges you can expect). He played as long and as late as he pleased ... And the after-hours that Tatum really came to life."

Some interesting Art Tatum anecdotes:

His ear was so finely tuned that a parlor game he would play would be to have someone drop a handful of coins on the table. He was able to identify all of the coins.

Charlie "Bird" Parker said of him - "I wish I could play like Art Tatum's right hand".

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