2010-01-16

How many notes can be crowded by square minute?

A few months ago, after reading Franklyn Frank's description of Art Tatum's pianism ("he generally sounds as if he is using twenty fingers trying to play ten symphonies in five minutes") in his article in the Afro American (May 23, 1936), I decided to start some research looking for any other contemporary published sources (30s-40s) with such kind of humorous criticism on Tatum's overwhelming technique.

I have just discovered this piece, that I think it's worth sharing. It was written by a Paul K. Damai and published in The Hammond Time (Indiana) on November 16, 1935:

"Art Tatum, widely publicized as a "blind" pianist but who really can (with the aid of spectacles) see quite well thank you, hits about all the notes that it is possible for any one man to hit on any one piano. It is our opinion that he hits too many.

Tatum out-notes Duchin and Sims and consequently does a better job of losing the main melodic and basic thread of a composish (sic) through the use of extraneous notes. His superfluous finger-trickery holds as much aural beauty as those old-fashioned hot second-choruses on the ancient piano rolls. It, however, is a noble attempt to discover how many notes can be crowded per square minute of air time".

Priceless rubbish!

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