|Birth Day:||October 13, 1909|
|Death Date:||Nov 5, 1956 (age 47)|
|Birth Place:||Toledo, United States|
|Height:||in centimeters - N/A|
|Weight:||in kg - N/A|
As per our current Database, Art Tatum died on Nov 5, 1956 (age 47).
He was a child prodigy who began playing church hymns by ear when he was three. He also had perfect pitch.
Tatum's mother, Mildred Hoskins, was born in Martinsville, Virginia, around 1890, and was a domestic worker. His father, Arthur Tatum Sr., was born in Statesville, North Carolina, and had steady employment as a mechanic. In 1909, they made their way from North Carolina to begin a new life in Toledo, Ohio. The couple had four children; Art was the oldest to survive, and was born in Toledo on October 13, 1909. He was followed by Arline nine years later and by Karl after another two years. Karl went to college and became a social worker. The Tatum family was regarded as conventional and church-going.
Tatum first attended Jefferson School in Toledo, then moved to the School for the Blind in Columbus, Ohio, late in 1924. He was there for probably less than a year before transferring to the Toledo School of Music. He had formal piano lessons with Overton G. Rainey at either the Jefferson School or the Toledo School of Music. Rainey, who was also visually impaired, taught the classical tradition, as he did not improvise and discouraged his students from playing jazz. Based on this history, it is reasonable to assume that Tatum was largely self-taught as a pianist. By the time he was a teenager, Tatum was asked to play at various social events, and he was probably being paid to play in Toledo clubs from around 1924–25.
In 1927, after winning an amateur competition, Tatum began playing on Toledo radio station WSPD during interludes in a morning shopping program and soon had his own daily program. After regular club dates, Tatum often visited after-hours clubs to be with other musicians; he enjoyed listening to other pianists and preferred to play last, after all the others had finished. He frequently played for hours on end into the dawn; his radio show was scheduled for noon, allowing him time to rest before evening performances. During 1928–29, the radio program was re-broadcast nationwide by the Blue Network. Tatum also began to play in larger cities outside his home town, including Cleveland, Columbus, and Detroit.
By the time that vocalist Adelaide Hall, touring the United States with two pianists, heard Tatum play in Toledo in 1932 and recruited him to play in her band, he took the opportunity to go to New York City. On August 5 that year, Hall and her band recorded two sides ("I'll Never Be the Same" and "Strange as It Seems") that were Tatum's first studio recordings. Two more sides with Hall followed five days later, as did a solo piano test-pressing of "Tea for Two" that was not released for several decades.
Tatum's only known child, Orlando, was born in 1933, when Tatum was twenty-four. The mother was Marnette Jackson, a waitress in Toledo; the pair were not married. It is likely that neither parent had a major role in raising their son, who pursued a military career and died in the 1980s.
During the hard economic times of 1934 and 1935, Tatum mostly played in clubs in Cleveland, but also recorded in New York four times in 1934 and once in the following year. He also performed on national radio, including for the Fleischman Hour broadcast hosted by Rudy Vallee in 1935. In August of the same year, he married Ruby Arnold, who was from Cleveland. He began a residence of about a year at the Three Deuces in Chicago the following month, initially as a soloist and then in a quartet of alto saxophone, guitar and drums.
Tatum was serious at the keyboard, not attempting crowd-pleasing gestures, and he maintained a calm demeanor. This accentuated the impact of his playing on observers, as did his seemingly effortless technique, as fellow pianist Hank Jones observed – the apparently horizontal gliding of his hands across the keys stunned his contemporaries. Tatum's relatively straight-fingered technique, compared to the curvature taught in classical training, contributed to this visual impression: a critic wrote in 1935 that, when playing, "Tatum's hand is almost perfectly horizontal, and his fingers seem to actuate around a horizontal line drawn from wrist to finger tip."
In California, Tatum also played for Hollywood parties and appeared on Bing Crosby's radio program late in 1936. He recorded in Los Angeles for the first time early the following year – four tracks as the sextet named Art Tatum and His Swingsters, for Decca Records. Continuing to travel by long-distance train, Tatum settled into a pattern of performances at major jazz clubs in Los Angeles, Chicago, and New York, interspersed with appearances at minor clubs. Thus, in 1937 he left Los Angeles for another residence at the Three Deuces in Chicago, and then went on to the Famous Door club in New York, where he opened for Louis Prima. Tatum recorded for Brunswick again near the end of that year.
In March 1938, Tatum and his wife embarked on the Queen Mary for England. He performed there for three months, and enjoyed the quiet listeners who, unlike some American audiences, did not talk over his playing. While in England, he appeared twice on the BBC Television program Starlight. Four of his very limited number of compositions were also published in Britain. He then returned to the Three Deuces. The overseas trip appeared to have boosted his reputation, particularly with the white public, and he was able to have club residencies of at least several weeks at a time in New York over the following few years, sometimes with stipulations that no food or drink would be served while he was playing.
Tatum recorded 16 tracks in August 1938, but they were not released for at least a decade. A similar thing happened the following year: of the 18 sides he recorded, only two were issued as 78s. A possible explanation is that the popularity of big band music decreased the demand for solo recordings, so very few jazz pianists made them. One of the releases, a version of "Tea for Two", was added to the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1986. One recording from early in 1941, however, was commercially successful, with sales of perhaps 500,000. This was "Wee Baby Blues", performed by a sextet and with the addition of Big Joe Turner on vocals. Informal performances of Tatum's playing in 1940 and 1941 were released after his death on the album God Is in the House, for which he was awarded the 1973 Grammy for Best Jazz Performance by a Soloist. The album title came from Waller's words when he saw Tatum enter the club he was playing in: "I only play the piano, but tonight God is in the house."
Tatum was, though, able to make a more than adequate living from his club performances. Billboard magazine suggested that he could make at least $300 a week as a soloist in 1943; when he formed a trio later that year, it was advertised by booking agents at $750 a week. The other musicians in the trio were guitarist Tiny Grimes and bassist Slam Stewart. They were a commercial success on 52nd Street, attracting more customers than any other musician, with the possible exception of vocalist Billie Holiday, and they also appeared briefly on film, in an episode of The March of Time. As a solo pianist up to that point, Tatum was praised by critics, but the paying public had given him relatively little attention; with the trio, he enjoyed more popular success, although some critics expressed disappointment. However, Tatum was awarded Esquire magazine's prize for pianists in its 1944 critics' poll.
All of Tatum's studio recordings in 1944 were with the trio, and radio appearances continued. He abandoned the trio in 1944, possibly at an agent's behest, and did not record with one again for eight years. Early in 1945, Billboard reported that Tatum was being paid $1,150 a week as a soloist by the Downbeat club on 52nd Street to play four sets of twenty minutes each per night. This was described much later as an "unheard-of figure" for the time. The Billboard reviewer commented that "Tatum is given a broken-down instrument, some bad lights and nothing else", and observed that he was almost inaudible beyond the front seating because of the audience noise.
Aided by name recognition from his record sales and reduced entertainer availability because of the World War II draft, Tatum began to play in more formal jazz concert settings from 1944 – appearing at concert halls in towns and universities all around the United States. The venues were much larger than jazz clubs – some had capacities in excess of 3,000 people – allowing Tatum to earn more money for much less work. Despite the more formal concert settings, Tatum preferred not to adhere to a set program of pieces for these performances. He recorded with the Barney Bigard Sextet and cut nine solo tracks in 1945.
Performances at concert settings continued in the second half of the 1940s, including participation in Norman Granz-produced Jazz at the Philharmonic events. In 1947, Tatum again appeared on film, this time in The Fabulous Dorseys. A 1949 concert at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles was recorded and released by Columbia Records as Gene Norman Presents an Art Tatum Concert. In the same year, he signed to Capitol Records and recorded 26 pieces for them. He also played for the first time at Club Alamo in Detroit, but stopped when a black friend was not served. The owner subsequently advertised that black customers were welcome, and Tatum went on to play there frequently in the following few years.
Tatum began working with a trio again in 1951. The trio – this time with bassist Stewart and guitarist Everett Barksdale – recorded in 1952. In the same year, Tatum toured the United States with fellow pianists Erroll Garner, Pete Johnson, and Meade Lux Lewis, for concerts billed as "Piano Parade".
Tatum's four-year absence from the recording studios as a soloist ended when Granz, who owned Clef Records, decided to record his solo playing in a way that was "unprecedented in the recording industry: invite him into the studio, start the tape, and let him play whatever he felt like playing. [...] At the time this was an astonishing enterprise, the most extensive recording that had been done of any jazz figure." Over several sessions starting late in 1953, Tatum recorded 124 solo tracks, all but three of which were released, spread over a total of 14 LPs. Granz reported that the recording tape ran out during one piece, but Tatum, instead of starting again from the beginning, asked to listen to a playback of just the final eight bars, then continued the performance from there on the new tape, keeping to the same tempo as on the first attempt. The solo pieces were released by Clef as The Genius of Art Tatum, and were added to the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1978.
Following a health warning, Tatum stopped drinking in 1954 and lost weight. That year, his trio was part of bandleader Stan Kenton's 10-week tour named "Festival of Modern American Jazz". The trio did not play with Kenton's orchestra on the tour, but they had the same performance schedule, meaning Tatum sometimes travelled long distances by overnight train while the others stayed in a hotel and then took a morning flight. He also appeared on television in The Spike Jones Show on April 17, to promote the then imminent release of The Genius of Art Tatum. Tatum was rarely filmed, but his solo performance of "Yesterdays" on the show has survived as a video recording.
Tatum and Ruby divorced early in 1955. They probably did not travel much together and she had become an alcoholic; the divorce was acrimonious. He married again later that year – Geraldine Williamson, with whom he had probably already been living. She had little interest in music, and did not normally attend his performances.
By 1956, Tatum's health had deteriorated due to advanced uremia. Nevertheless, in August of that year he played to the largest audience of his career: 19,000 gathered at the Hollywood Bowl for another Granz-led event. The following month, he had the last of the Granz group recording sessions, with saxophonist Ben Webster, and then played at least two concerts in October. He was too unwell to continue touring, so returned to his home in Los Angeles. Musicians visited him on November 4, and other pianists played for him as he lay in bed.
In 1989, Tatum's hometown of Toledo established the Art Tatum African American Resource Center in its Kent Branch Library. It contains print and audio materials and microfiche, and organizes cultural programs, including festivals, concerts, and a gallery for local artists.
Tatum died the following day, at Queen of Angels Medical Center in Los Angeles, from uremia. He was buried at Rosedale Cemetery in Los Angeles, but was moved to the Forest Lawn cemetery in Glendale, California, in 1992 by his second wife, so she could be buried next to him. Tatum was inducted into the DownBeat Jazz Hall of Fame in 1964 and was given a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 1989.
In 1993, an MIT student in the field of computational musicology coined the term "tatum", which was named in recognition of the pianist's speed. It has been defined as "the smallest time interval between successive notes in a rhythmic phrase", and "the fastest pulse present in a piece of music".
In 2003, a historical marker was placed outside Tatum's childhood home at 1123 City Park Avenue in Toledo, but by 2017 the unoccupied property was in a state of disrepair. Also in Toledo, the Huntington Center, unveiled a 27-feet-high sculpture, the "Art Tatum Celebration Column", in 2009.
Art's mother, Mildred Hoskins, was a pianist, and his father, Arthur Tatum Sr., played the guitar.
Currently, Art Tatum is 111 years, 6 months and 28 days old. Art Tatum will celebrate 112th birthday on a Wednesday 13th of October 2021. Below we countdown to Art Tatum upcoming birthday.
Celebrating Art Tatum's 108th Birthday And His Toledo Roots
Today would have been the great pianist Art Tatum's 108th birthday. WEMU celebrated his birth in 1909 with Dr. Imelda Hunt, author Does A Genius? - A