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The Piano
Europe and who retains the forceful authority of the early boogie-woogie catalysts.
In the years preceding and concurrent with the rise of boogie-woogie there came to prominence a pianistic phenomenon unĀ­like anything that had preceded it, and certainly not replaced since its recent disappearance from the scene. Art Tatum, who recorded his first piano solos in 1933 and his last a few weeks before his death in 1956, was the first musician to play jazz piano with complete technical command. His brain and fingers moved so fast that he expressed in one measure more ideas, more subtie-ties of phrasing and dynamics and harmony, than could most of his predecessors in four.
Graced by Tatuin s gossamer touch and articulation, the keys became feathers. Every style known to keyboard jazz was at his command. Unaccompanied, he might veer from a joyous sequence of stride-piano measures to a sudden outburst of boogie-woogie. His blues could express more completely and exquisitely the essence of a blues mood than any horn, any other pianist, any singer ever born. His interplay with the members of his trio (for the last 13 years of his life he usually worked with a guitarist and bassist) showed grace and humor as the three dovetailed in consummate cohesion.
Tatum was not a standard by which jazz piano could be judged, nor an objective toward which others would aim; the cliche "in a class by himselF applied so clearly in his case that other pianists, after sitting for hours in awestruck silence, would go home determined not to try to emulate Tatum, but to give up the piano forever.
Thus there was no Tatum school of piano, no Tatum style to copy, no neo-Tatum to compare with the original. The ideas of Waller, Wilson and Hines at least were potentially within reach of the aspiring youngster while Tatum* s remained the envy of his most gifted contemporaries.
If any individual can claim to have been to the 1940s a jazz influence comparable with Teddy Wilson of the '30s, the claimant could be none but Earl "Budw Powell.
Powell has been the Sminence grise of modern jazz piano. Even