Piano Starts Here: Live at the Shrine [Zenph Re-Performance]

Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Ken Dryden
For many serious jazz fans, no pianist has ever approached the technical mastery of Art Tatum, though his virtuoso skills usually meant he was at his best unaccompanied. Many of his recordings from the 1930s and '40s were limited by the deficiencies of recording methods at the time. Piano Starts Here, long considered one of Tatum's definitive albums, combined four solos from a 1933 studio session (his first as a soloist, aside from a test pressing a year earlier), and a fabulous solo concert at the Shrine Auditorium in 1949 (the latter issued as an Armed Forces Radio Service 16" transcription disc), which has been reissued many times over the decades. But there were several ...
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Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Ken Dryden
For many serious jazz fans, no pianist has ever approached the technical mastery of Art Tatum, though his virtuoso skills usually meant he was at his best unaccompanied. Many of his recordings from the 1930s and '40s were limited by the deficiencies of recording methods at the time. Piano Starts Here, long considered one of Tatum's definitive albums, combined four solos from a 1933 studio session (his first as a soloist, aside from a test pressing a year earlier), and a fabulous solo concert at the Shrine Auditorium in 1949 (the latter issued as an Armed Forces Radio Service 16" transcription disc), which has been reissued many times over the decades. But there were several problems with these releases. The pitch was slightly too slow on the live material. A medley of George Gershwin tunes was awkwardly edited (a miserly decision to save on royalty payments) to only "The Man I Love," discarding over one minute of other compositions, including "Summertime," "I've Got Plenty of Nothin'," and "It Ain't Necessarily So." The order of the live performances was also altered. Zenph Studios decided to use 21st century computer technology to re-create this album, both the 1933 studio session and the famous 1949 concert. The technicians worked wonders with the source material, by correcting the speed and adding the missing segments. Improvements in computer technology enabled the staff to not only replicate how Tatum played each key, but also to duplicate his use of the sustain pedal, recording the playback on a MIDI file that in turn served as source for a Yamaha Disklavier Pro concert grand piano, which was recorded two different ways on the very same Shrine Auditorium stage. They even took the time to duplicate the exact location of the piano on-stage for Tatum's original Shrine concert. No audience was used for the 1933 selections, which included versions of "Tea for Two" and "Tiger Rag," in all likelihood similar to the performances Tatum used to best both Fats Waller and James P. Johnson during a Harlem cutting contest not long after Tatum arrived in New York City. Of major interest is the greatly improved fidelity of the re-creation of the 1949 concert. Instead of using generations-old, flawed tapes that were descended from the original AFRS transcription disc, the MIDI file as played back on the Yamaha Disklavier Pro concert grand piano seems closer to the essence of what Tatum's original performance sounded like. Antonin Dvorák's "Humoresque" is the playful opener (a tape transfer error on later LPs has been restored), followed by "Tatum Pole Boogie" (a rollicking inventive original that doesn't rely exclusively on a consistent, heavy ostinato bassline like most boogie-woogie). The complete restored "Gershwin Medley" (courtesy of Tatum discographer Arnold Laubich, who owned a copy of the original performance) removes for good the abrupt edit present between the opening and closing sections of "The Man I Love" on all earlier commercial issues. The uptempo showpieces are dazzling, including a romp through "How High the Moon" and "Yesterdays" (which includes a surprising octave unison segment) plus the strolling, bluesy take of "Willow Weep for Me." The producers of this Art Tatum "re-performance" simultaneously recorded the playback in two different ways. The first 13 cuts on the CD were recorded to five tracks for a stereo surround version, to achieve ideal sound for listeners. The music is duplicated in the second half of the CD, but it is in a binaural stereo version recorded two-track into a dummy head propped as if the listener is the pianist hearing the instrument as he or she is performing. Listening to the binaural recordings on headphones gives an intimate perspective, with the applause heard mostly in the right channel and the auditorium air conditioning audible in quieter passages. It is compatible with regular CD players, Super Audio units, and Super Audio Surround Sound. This re-performance of classic recordings by Art Tatum will likely be controversial for some collectors, who think that technology has destroyed the integrity of the pianist's performances. This CD doesn't replace Tatum's Piano Starts Here in anyone's collection, but the greatly improved sound of Piano Starts Here: Live at the Shrine should be considered a marvelous engineering feat to give jazz fans a much better idea of what the late piano virtuoso sounded like in concert on a top-notch instrument.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 6/3/2008
  • Label: Sony Classics
  • UPC: 886972221823
  • Catalog Number: 722218
  • Sales rank: 57,687

Tracks

Disc 1
  1. 1 Tea For Two (3:13)
  2. 2 St. Louis Blues (2:41)
  3. 3 Tiger Rag (2:22)
  4. 4 Sophisticated Lady (3:19)
  5. 5 Humoresque (3:48)
  6. 6 Tatum Pole Boogie (2:32)
  7. 7 Someone To Watch Over Me (3:35)
  8. 8 How High the Moon (2:30)
  9. 9 Yesterdays (3:28)
  10. 10 Willow Weep For Me (3:17)
  11. 11 The Kerry Dance (1:06)
  12. 12 Gershwin Medley (3:58)
  13. 13 I Know That You Know (2:45)
  14. 14 Tea For Two (3:13)
  15. 15 St. Louis Blues (2:41)
  16. 16 Tiger Rag (2:20)
  17. 17 Sophisticated Lady (3:20)
  18. 18 Humoresque (3:47)
  19. 19 Tatum Pole Boogie (2:32)
  20. 20 Someone To Watch Over Me (3:35)
  21. 21 How High the Moon (2:29)
  22. 22 Yesterdays (3:28)
  23. 23 Willow Weep For Me (3:17)
  24. 24 The Kerry Dance (1:06)
  25. 25 Gershwin Medley (3:58)
  26. 26 I Know That You Know (2:42)
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Album Credits

Performance Credits
Art Tatum Primary Artist
Marc Wienert Voices
Technical Credits
Antonin Dvorak Composer
George Gershwin Composer
Art Tatum Composer
Vincent Youmans Composer
Jerome Kern Composer
Irving Caesar Composer
Duke Ellington Composer
Ira Gershwin Composer
Nancy Hamilton Composer
Otto Harbach Composer
Richard King Engineer
William M. Lewis Jr. Composer
Gene Norman Presentation
Gus Skinas Engineer, Authoring
Roxanne Slimak Art Direction
Ann Ronell Composer
Doctor Mikhail Krishtal Project Staff
Doctor Anatoly Larkin Project Staff
Doctor Randal Leistikow Project Staff
Jeffrey McIntyre Producer
Spider Robinson Liner Notes
Steven Epstein Producer
James Lyman Molloy Composer
Eric Hirsh Project Staff
Leslie Collman-Smith Marketing
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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    I saw this played live at the Apollo Theater

    Iwent to the Apollo theater this Friday, June 20, 2008. Zenpf Studios had set up a Steinway to perform the album truly Live at the Apollo. It was one of the most amazing experiences of my life. The music is amazing and the sound clarity and definition is the closet thing you will ever get to hearing Tatum live. I was also lucky enough to attend with famed Art Tatum discographer Arnold Laubich who consulted on the project and even supplied some missing pieces of the Gerswin medley from his personal collection. It was actually combined with a one man play that made the experience far more educational and accessable.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 5, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews