Art Tatum Celebrated in “Re-Performance” CD, Concert and Book

The legacy of the late pianist Art Tatum will be celebrated with a new recording of his Piano Starts Here, a benefit concert in Harlem and a children’s book. According to a press release, “With the June 3rd release of Sony BMG Masterworks and Zenph Studios’ Piano Starts Here, a new recording of Art Tatum’s masterpiece album, fans will be ‘more jazzed than ever before.'” The original Tatum recordings were first played in 1949 live at L.A.’s Shrine Auditorium and the in-studio selections were recorded in 1933. The Sony BMG Masterworks-Zenph Studios disc is a “re-performance” featuring the original (with newly re-recorded 2007 live) Shrine recordings and the tracks from Tatum’s first commercial foray into the studio dating back to 1933 (originally recorded on 78 rpm masters). The disc is a follow-up to the Zenph re-performance of pianist Glenn Gould’s classic 1955 recording of Bach Goldberg Variations.” The new Piano Starts Here album also contains additional material that has not been available for more than 50 years.

Zenph Studios is also bringing Piano Starts Here live to New York via “an original (Tatum) character-driven musical stage experience” scheduled for Harlem’s Apollo Theater on June 19, 20 and 22. Proceeds from the two performances will go to the National Jazz Museum in Harlem, located currently at 104 E. 126th Street. Half of the total proceeds from the Tatum/Apollo performances are earmarked to help the funding necessary for the museum’s move to a permanent home. The show will also be included in the Toronto Jazz Festival on June 23rd and additional shows will be announced shortly.

Additionally, Tatum’s widow, Geraldine, who recently became ill, is putting their L.A. home up for sale. Zenph Studios has arranged to pack, transport and store a number of Tatum artifacts from the house including Tatum’s prized grand piano, a number of touring trunks filled with clothes and a locked piano bench filled with personal papers and sheet music. The Tatum artifacts will be donated to The Jazz Museum in Harlem and will be included in a forthcoming exhibit featuring legendary jazz greats.

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Lastly, children’s illustrator and author Robert Andrew Parker, who designed the cover artwork for Columbia’s original LP of Tatum’s Piano Starts Here, has crafted a book, Piano Starts Here-The Young Art Tatum, which has been published by Random House.