Who influenced Tatum?

Posted by: JoelW

Who influenced Tatum? - 02/27/13 05:07 AM

I know he was a Jazz pianist and not classical, but I thought the Pianist's Corner might be more knowledgeable nonetheless.

I'm researching some of Art Tatum's licks and runs. Was he the first to do this sort of thing? Who influenced him? Did he invent that style of piano playing?
Posted by: theJourney

Re: Who influenced Tatum? - 02/27/13 05:20 AM

I would think that Art Tatum would have been influenced by the pianists of the late 1910's such as: Eubie Blake, Charles "Luckey" Roberts and James P. Johnson.
Posted by: beeboss

Re: Who influenced Tatum? - 02/27/13 07:22 AM

Earl Hines.
He invented a lot of stuff himself but you can hear the evolution of some of the lines from Waller and many other players.
Posted by: pianoloverus

Re: Who influenced Tatum? - 02/27/13 08:13 AM

Dick Hyman( can sound amazingly like Tatum if he wants to) and others have a whole series of Youtube videos on the technical aspects of Tatums' playing:
http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=art+tatum%27s+lessons&oq=art+tatum%27s+lessons&gs_l=youtube-reduced.12...7941.13560.0.16475.19.18.0.1.1.0.384.3375.6j3j4j5.18.0...0.0...1ac.1.UD9Sy3-0NbE

Check out this book available on Amazon and other places:
The Right Hand According to Tatum: A Guide to Tatum's Improvisational Techniques Plus 10 Transcribed Piano Solos by
Riccardo Scivales

Here is Dick Hyman playing like Tatum:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yRgWECXLKY8

Here is the terrific classical pianist Mei Ting Sun playing Tatum:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iF9v4uzR4OA
Posted by: Miguel Rey

Re: Who influenced Tatum? - 02/27/13 09:53 AM

Mei Ting Not even close, more like a robot with no concept of jazz. Dick Hyman played very nice night & day difference from Ting. Playing "like Tatum" is more then just playing the notes Tatum wrote/improvised. Can anyone "play like" Horowitz? ?
Posted by: pianoloverus

Re: Who influenced Tatum? - 02/27/13 10:11 AM

Originally Posted By: Miguel Rey
Mei Ting Not even close, more like a robot with no concept of jazz. Dick Hyman played very nice night & day difference from Ting. Playing "like Tatum" is more then just playing the notes Tatum wrote/improvised. Can anyone "play like" Horowitz??
One should not expect a classical pianist like Mei Ting Sun to have the knowledge the jazz idiom or nuances of a very great jazz pianist like Dick Hyman who has spent at least 50 years playing jazz. That being said, I think Sun plays that piece better than many professional jazz pianists could and certainly better than most classical pianists could.
Posted by: bennevis

Re: Who influenced Tatum? - 02/27/13 11:28 AM

I've heard more than a few classical pianists let their hair down and play jazz almost to the manner born when they felt like it. And some of them aren't the usual suspects (American or French, or African-American) that one might expect.

For instance, there's Dmitri Alexeev (who was a Leeds winner and has CDs of Rachmaninoff, Medtner and Shostakovich to his credit) accompanying Barbara Hendricks in spirituals, improvising the accompaniment in true jazz style. And I heard Denis Matsuev last year on a live radio program, improvising a highly virtuosic piece, throwing in Tatum-like runs and boogie-woogie, amongst other jazz idioms, into the mix. Art Tatum frankly couldn't hold a candle to his brilliant and intricate runs, even if he's arguably more idiomatic.
Posted by: beeboss

Re: Who influenced Tatum? - 02/27/13 01:33 PM

Originally Posted By: bennevis
Art Tatum frankly couldn't hold a candle to his brilliant and intricate runs, even if he's arguably more idiomatic.



Hmm

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f_lCL04CT_Q
Posted by: landorrano

Re: Who influenced Tatum? - 02/27/13 01:39 PM

Originally Posted By: beeboss
Earl Hines.


What a pleasure, just to read this name. Earl "Fatha" Hines.
Posted by: daviel

Re: Who influenced Tatum? - 02/27/13 02:32 PM

Listen to some Andre Previn and tell me he can't play jazz.
Posted by: bennevis

Re: Who influenced Tatum? - 02/27/13 03:21 PM

While on the subject of classical pianists playing jazz to the manner born, how about the late, great Friedrich Gulda? (Also known for faking his own death, and playing in the buff..... wink )

http://youtu.be/hgyxtgHROxg

BTW, he also plays very classical Mozart, and powerful and virile Chopin.....
Posted by: beeboss

Re: Who influenced Tatum? - 02/27/13 03:24 PM

Previn plays some pretty good jazz but to compare him to Tatum is just absurd, I am sure he would be the first to admit it. Previn tells a good story about when Tatum met Horowitz which is quite illuminating.

you can read it here if you like...

http://tatumquotes.piczo.com/

"... from Andre Previn, who told the tale of how Horowitz was dazzled when he first heard Tatum at a nightclub and took his father-in-law Toscannini to see him the next night. Tatum and Horowitz became friends...
With Hofmann, Lhevinne and Godowsky still around, Horowitz had not quite yet reached the top of the pile, and so he took to making his own finger-wrenching transcriptions, using them as his finales. Audiences had already gone wild over the "Gypsy Theme from Carmen" and, especially, his "Stars and Stripes Forever"; Horowitz was in search now for a new, more effective theme. He chose Vincent Youman's "Tea for Two". Months and months of work produced a virtuoso showpiece so knotty that it took Horowitz several months more to prepare and learn it for performance. Always the conscientious artist, he wanted first to have the opinions of those whom he respected before taking the transcription to the public; of course he asked Tatum.
Up in his apartment, Horowitz sat himself at the piano and began to pay "Tea for Two" for his Jazz counterpart. Thunder and lightening, hail and brimstone, Horowitz finished the piece and looks up immediately at Tatum with an eager set of eyes.
"What do you think?" asks the Russian.
"Very good. I enjoyed it." comes the answer. Pause. Tatum continues: "Would you like to hear my version of 'Tea for Two'?"
"Certainly I would. Go ahead."
Tatum gets up and launches into the piece that has always been one of his specialties. Horowitz' mouth drops when he hears what he hears and as soon as the Jazzman finishes:
"My God! That was fantastic! Where did you get that transcription? You must give it to me!"
"Transcription?" answers Tatum, "That was no transcription. I was just improvising!"
Horowitz liked to play "Tea for Two" for his own pleasure; but he never played it in public."
Posted by: Miguel Rey

Re: Who influenced Tatum? - 02/27/13 03:48 PM

You dont "play jazz" it plays you. I stand with my comments about Ting. Sounds like a typewriter.

pianoloverus says:
"One should not expect a classical pianist like Mei Ting Sun to have the knowledge the jazz idiom or nuances of a very great jazz pianist like Dick Hyman who has spent at least 50 years playing jazz. That being said, I think Sun plays that piece better than many professional jazz pianists could and certainly better than most classical pianists could."

Be that as it may you wont find many true "jazz pianists" trying to imitate anyone. That just wouldn't be jazz.


bennevis says:
"Art Tatum frankly couldn't hold a candle to his brilliant and intricate runs, even if he's arguably more idiomatic." -- Art Tatum was basically blind and never trained as a classical pianist as the others you mentioned. Had he done so you I would bet both pinkies that he would do more then just hold a candle.

All the comments by myself and others who really fall of deaf ears becuase we just don't carry the weight to make such critics of anyone. But...

Toscanini was once an hour late to his own performance in New York because he was stupefied listening to Tatum in a club. He said Tatum was the greatest piano player of all times.
---------------
Rachmaninov said that he understood what Tatum played, but was unable to do the same. And also 'If this man ever decides to play serious music we're all in trouble'
---------------
When a young scholar in music recognised the maestro, Arthur Rubinstein,in the murky recesses of a club, he asked "What are you doing in such a place?", Rubinstein simply answered, "Shhhh, I'm just listening to the greatest musician that ever was."
--------------
Oscar Levant tells of Gershwin finding Tatum in a Hollywood nightclub:
To George's great joy, Tatum played virtually the equivalent of Beethoven's thirty-two variations on his tune "Liza". Then George asked for more.

--------------
Finally from Andre Previn, who told the tale of how Horowitz was dazzled when he first heard Tatum at a nightclub and took his father-in-law Toscannini to see him the next night. Tatum and Horowitz became friends...

CASE CLOSED. so back to the original question. Who was Tatums influence? I'm sure there were many, including a host of great classical composers
Posted by: pianoloverus

Re: Who influenced Tatum? - 02/27/13 04:04 PM

Originally Posted By: Miguel Rey
CASE CLOSED
Almost your entire post has nothing to do with my objection to your harsh criticism of Sun. No one's claiming Sun plays this piece as well as Tatum or that Tatum wasn't sensational. But your criticism of Sun, which I find somewhat mean spirited, is only personal opinion. And my thinking is that those most quick to criticize other pianists are often nowhere near as correct as they think.
Posted by: Miguel Rey

Re: Who influenced Tatum? - 02/27/13 04:51 PM

Didnt mean to be mean spirited but just felt inclined to comment on his not so great playing of Jazz. I would do the same if Mc Coy Tyner or Dave Brubeck had made a run at playing Lizst attempting to pass it off as classical piano.

For what it's worth I play classical music but love jazz almost just as much, just cant play it as I would like to .
Posted by: Tim Adrianson

Re: Who influenced Tatum? - 02/27/13 05:02 PM

JoelW -- In addition to some of the sources and influences already cited, I'd probably include Teddy Wilson and Willie ("The Lion")Smith as swing and stride influences, respectively. Truth of the matter is, though, jazz pianists of that time pretty much looked upon HIM as THE extraordinary influencer -- not only in a technical, but also a musical sense. When asked what he thought of Tatum when he first heard him, the pianist Jaki Byard said something to that effect that "I was just beyond stunned -- and not just by his phenomenal technical chops, but his ability to project complicated 13th relationships and modulations across the entire keyboard so effortlessly, transforming the theme across different keys and registers at lightning speed. It would've taken me a month or so to provide the variety he accomplished in three minutes of improvisation."
Posted by: Dave Horne

Re: Who influenced Tatum? - 02/27/13 05:16 PM

I had never heard of Denis Matsuev before this thread and gave a quick listen to several pieces on YouTube. He was highly influenced by Oscar according to my ears.
Posted by: Miguel Rey

Re: Who influenced Tatum? - 02/27/13 05:17 PM

Fats Waller was once playing in a night club in Harlem, and another professional pianist dropped by. When he noticed the newcomer, Waller stopped playing, stood up and said, "Ladies and gentlemen, I'm a pretty good piano player... but God just walked into this club." He was talking about Art Tatum
Posted by: wr

Re: Who influenced Tatum? - 02/28/13 07:28 AM

Originally Posted By: Miguel Rey

Oscar Levant tells of Gershwin finding Tatum in a Hollywood nightclub:
To George's great joy, Tatum played virtually the equivalent of Beethoven's thirty-two variations on his tune "Liza". Then George asked for more.



Oscar did have a way of telling a story...

When young, I was suitably astonished by Tatum recordings. But eventually it became clear that his bag of tricks was quite limited, and full of mannerisms and some very predictable tics. The virtuosity itself is still amazing, but as an improvisor, he is just not that interesting to me anymore. There is something rote and excessively formula-driven about it, to my ears.

Of course, it's easy to get spoiled by all the wonderful jazz improvisation that came after Tatum's era, and to make unfair comparisons. And it is easy to forget that some of the classical musicians gushing over his playing probably had fairly limited exposure to jazz improvisation at all.

But still, that virtuosity, on first encounter, in a live performance (after a drink or two on the listener's part) - holy smokes!!!! - I can easily see why people went nuts.
Posted by: bennevis

Re: Who influenced Tatum? - 02/28/13 09:42 AM

Originally Posted By: wr


When young, I was suitably astonished by Tatum recordings. But eventually it became clear that his bag of tricks was quite limited, and full of mannerisms and some very predictable tics. The virtuosity itself is still amazing, but as an improvisor, he is just not that interesting to me anymore. There is something rote and excessively formula-driven about it, to my ears.

Of course, it's easy to get spoiled by all the wonderful jazz improvisation that came after Tatum's era, and to make unfair comparisons. And it is easy to forget that some of the classical musicians gushing over his playing probably had fairly limited exposure to jazz improvisation at all.

But still, that virtuosity, on first encounter, in a live performance (after a drink or two on the listener's part) - holy smokes!!!! - I can easily see why people went nuts.



I have to say I totally agree with you. I bought a big box of CDs containing all of Tatum's recordings over his whole career some time ago, and still haven't listened to every track - in fact, I only managed to listen to about two CDs' worth, dipping into each CD before I got bored. After one rendition of Tea for Two, you already know what to expect from what he's going to do with another 'improvisation'. And then you realize that a lot of so-called jazz improvisations contain mostly well-rehearsed formulaic patterns of runs etc, and harmonic progressions containing 'added-notes' which rapidly pall.

There is a reason why great music isn't improvised.
Posted by: pianoloverus

Re: Who influenced Tatum? - 02/28/13 10:40 AM

Originally Posted By: bennevis
Originally Posted By: wr


When young, I was suitably astonished by Tatum recordings. But eventually it became clear that his bag of tricks was quite limited, and full of mannerisms and some very predictable tics. The virtuosity itself is still amazing, but as an improvisor, he is just not that interesting to me anymore. There is something rote and excessively formula-driven about it, to my ears.

Of course, it's easy to get spoiled by all the wonderful jazz improvisation that came after Tatum's era, and to make unfair comparisons. And it is easy to forget that some of the classical musicians gushing over his playing probably had fairly limited exposure to jazz improvisation at all.

But still, that virtuosity, on first encounter, in a live performance (after a drink or two on the listener's part) - holy smokes!!!! - I can easily see why people went nuts.



I have to say I totally agree with you. I bought a big box of CDs containing all of Tatum's recordings over his whole career some time ago, and still haven't listened to every track - in fact, I only managed to listen to about two CDs' worth, dipping into each CD before I got bored. After one rendition of Tea for Two, you already know what to expect from what he's going to do with another 'improvisation'. And then you realize that a lot of so-called jazz improvisations contain mostly well-rehearsed formulaic patterns of runs etc, and harmonic progressions containing 'added-notes' which rapidly pall.

There is a reason why great music isn't improvised.
I don't think anyone is going to say Tatum's Tea for Two improvisation is on a level of Beethoven's Symphony No.9 but I don't think that's the point. I think it goes without saying that no jazz musician is going to reinvent the wheel every time he improvises on a song and that every jazz musician has certain chord voicings or runs that he favors. How could it be otherwise? OTOH I think the greatest jazz pianists certainly include enough new ideas to make hearing their music endlessly fascinating.

I think the criticism in the quoted posts is not what the majority of listeners think when hearing Tatum or other great jazz pianists play. Tatum regularly gets voted as one of a handful of greatest jazz pianists of all time so if you don't like him or find him boring perhaps you just don't like jazz?

If Horowitz was apparently such a big fan of Tatum, perhaps he deserves a further listen? When I first heard Tatum, I found his downward arpeggiated figures too frequent but that was a long time ago. Now I find virtually every new Tatum performance I hear truly amazing.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=apkgYw7QMhU

Posted by: beeboss

Re: Who influenced Tatum? - 02/28/13 11:45 AM

Originally Posted By: bennevis


There is a reason why great music isn't improvised.




Improvisation is just composition in real time and many many of the great classical composers improvised and used those ideas as the basis of their compositions.
Posted by: daviel

Re: Who influenced Tatum? - 02/28/13 08:02 PM

beeboss - thanks for the citation on Art Tatum - I was not comparing Andre Previn to Art Tatum, just adding Previn as a classical musician who plays pretty good jazz.

Do think it's possible that many of Chopin's pieces are transcriptions of his improvisations?
Posted by: beeboss

Re: Who influenced Tatum? - 02/28/13 08:39 PM

Originally Posted By: daviel

Do think it's possible that many of Chopin's pieces are transcriptions of his improvisations?


Apparently according to Chopin's friend George Sand his compositions were “but a pale shadow of his improvisations”, but I guess we will never know for sure. It is certainly true that improvisation was once at the centre of being a musician and that has now been tragically lost for most. Anyway ….
you can read more about the relationship of classical composers and improvisation here if you like …

http://ericbarnhill.wordpress.com/facts-about-improvisation/
Posted by: pianoloverus

Re: Who influenced Tatum? - 03/01/13 07:52 AM

Originally Posted By: beeboss
Originally Posted By: daviel

Do think it's possible that many of Chopin's pieces are transcriptions of his improvisations?


Apparently according to Chopin's friend George Sand his compositions were “but a pale shadow of his improvisations”, but I guess we will never know for sure. It is certainly true that improvisation was once at the centre of being a musician and that has now been tragically lost for most. Anyway ….
you can read more about the relationship of classical composers and improvisation here if you like …

http://ericbarnhill.wordpress.com/facts-about-improvisation/
Improvisation was more important for pianists in the 18th and 19th centuries compared to the present, but to say that it was the center(i.e. most important part) of being a musician or composer is false I think.

No one knows how well Chopin improvised although most would assume at an incredibly high level and it makes sense that some of Chopin's works were based on his improvisations. The author of the article quotes George Sand but her statement makes little sense. Firstly, what was her musical knowledge? If Chopin's compositions really "paled next to his improvisations", why didn't Chopin just write down his improvisations and use those as his finished compositions. Chopin clearly didn't feel the way Sand did, and it would probably be better to say that Chopin was a terrific improviser and leave it at that.

IMO the article you mentioned tries too hard too fit too many of the great composers into the great improvisers category. For example, I don't think anyone knows how good the improvisations of Brahms or Schubert were. If Schubert's improvisations were similar to his huge written output of tiny German dances and waltzes, they were nowhere near the level of his great works because those compositions are very minor.

Posted by: beeboss

Re: Who influenced Tatum? - 03/01/13 08:27 AM

Originally Posted By: pianoloverus

If Chopin's compositions really "paled next to his improvisations", why didn't Chopin just write down his improvisations and use those as his finished compositions.




Maybe he did
Posted by: wr

Re: Who influenced Tatum? - 03/01/13 08:41 AM

Originally Posted By: beeboss
Originally Posted By: daviel

Do think it's possible that many of Chopin's pieces are transcriptions of his improvisations?


Apparently according to Chopin's friend George Sand his compositions were “but a pale shadow of his improvisations”, but I guess we will never know for sure. It is certainly true that improvisation was once at the centre of being a musician and that has now been tragically lost for most. Anyway ….
you can read more about the relationship of classical composers and improvisation here if you like …

http://ericbarnhill.wordpress.com/facts-about-improvisation/


I forgot who said it, but apparently Debussy was also fantastic as an improvisor. And Sibelius, who isn't often thought of as piano-oriented, would spend hours improvising at the piano, and IIRC, would improvise wonderfully on pianos in bars when he was out drinking. I've heard that Stravinsky, too, seems to have used some form of improvisation at the keyboard to inspire his composition, but I've never heard that he did it in public. Vincent Persichetti, on the other hand, did improvise in public, and I once attended a lecture/concert of his where he asked for the audience to suggest three notes, which he arranged into a motif, and then he proceeded to improvise a full-blown sonata-allegro movement on that motif. It was mind-boggling.

Another famous public improvisor, from much further back, was Hummel, who said he preferred public improvisation to playing notated music. And, from the reports of the day, he was quite astonishing at it.

It's easy these days, having access to far more notated music than is even possible to read through in a lifetime, to forget that many famous composers have also been quite involved with improvisation, public or not. It's not their formal "product", but I think it is interesting that it has been so present in classical music all along.
Posted by: bennevis

Re: Who influenced Tatum? - 03/01/13 09:21 AM

The bottom line is that improvisations can never be as good as properly composed music, carefully structured and honed and worked over. Improvisations tend to be padded out with lots of extraneous stuff: I don't want to have another dig at jazz again (because I do like some of it - as long as there's no superfluous percussion and/or bass involved), but listen to any jazz improvisation and you'll hear not just lots of padding in the form of twiddles and runs etc, with scant melodic or harmonic or even rhythmic appeal, but also lots of meandering back and forth around various harmonies.

When classical pianists improvise cadenzas, that's also exactly what they do too, albeit in a different style.

Would any classical music lover want to sit through a whole concert of classical improvisations, no matter how good the pianist is at it? (And there are many who are brilliant at it). Maybe as a one-off, or as encores, maybe even part of a concert (like Gabriela Montero does), but improvisations on the whole don't bear repeated listening.
Posted by: Miguel Rey

Re: Who influenced Tatum? - 03/01/13 10:02 AM

"...but improvisations on the whole don't bear repeated listening"

And any good jazz pianist won't dare repeat an improvisation or bother to write it down. That is not Jazz, aka "Americas Classical Music"

Here's a good read:

Classical performances are almost entirely premeditated, resuscitating scores from the distant or near past; jazz insists on surprises and lives in an eternal present tense.

In classical music since the Baroque era, the composer has been exalted above all. Performers are expected to be distinctive, but only because they have different ideas on how best to realize the grand formal architecture and fine details of a composer's work. They are, with more or less humility, interpreters. And despite the efforts of living composers, most of what classical musicians interpret is from the repertory, not new work.

In jazz, the performer trumps the composer. Jazz musicians do treat some material with reverence, but they can also bring to it irony, bemusement, savage wit, irreverence or elaborate one-upmanship. Compositions are still important; whether it's Ellington or Monk or Wayne Shorter or Tin Pan Alley standards, jazz musicians prize the combination of musicianly intricacy and indelible melody. But for jazz musicians, the underlying structure is less important than what happens to it on the bandstand. To a form-minded classical listener, the typical jazz structure of theme-solos-theme may be banal. But just as Bach and Beethoven built monumental sets of variations on modest material, a great jazz improviser can turn a trivial pop ditty or a rudimentary blues into an unforgettable performance.

While classical music works toward a finished whole, jazz is about process and interaction: about the thought and reflexes involved when the saxophonist suddenly switches into double time and the drummer answers with an approving flurry of cymbal taps. Classical chamber groups, like jazz quintets, are cooperatives, but they know what notes they'll play before they step on a stage. A jazz group doesn't.
Posted by: etcetra

Re: Who influenced Tatum? - 03/03/13 07:36 AM

oh no, not this argument again... More structure does not=better music. Go Listen to some Indian classical music.

IMO most classical people who criticize jazz like this don't really pay much attention to rhythmic aspect of jazz. How many of those great classical improvisers you guys mentioned above can improvise in odd meter and use complex polyrhythm on top of it? Can they keep time in 4/4 while the rhythm section plays in 5 or better yet a false 5/4(taking 5 16th notes and making that the new beat, and playing that over 4/4)? All those things I mentioned above really aren't that unusual in modern jazz nowdays.

I am pretty sure most classical people won't get what's happening rhythmically on something like this

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aJ5eduwP-4U

and no they aren't just playing nonsense, there is a definite relationship between the groove and melody, and the drummer is improvising with two different rhythms in mind.

Also when you say something like Classical musician X can play circles around Tatum, keep in mind that Tatum manages to get strong sense of swing feel across even in his most furious runs. With all due respect, I am not really impressed with Mei Ting or most of classical pianists attempting jazz because they are seriously lacking in groove/time/feel department. To say these people are better than Tatum is an indication of ignorance and lack of appreciation for different aspects of music outside the classical aesthetic. If you really want to understand jazz aesthetic, don't just listen to Tatum, listen to Monk and understand what makes him so brilliant.. it certainly wasn't his chops.

I have tremendous respect for classical musicians, but it really bugs me when they criticize what jazzers do without really understanding what it takes. Uri Caine's 1997 jazz tribute to Gustav Mahler received an award from the German Mahler Society, while outraging some jury members. That was 20 years ago. It's 2013 now, we should be over this nonsense by now

Posted by: bennevis

Re: Who influenced Tatum? - 03/03/13 11:50 AM

etcetra,
I don't know why you feel the need to defend jazz by attacking classical: classical musicians have to put up with criticism all the time from jazz pianists for their 'inability' (as they see it) to improvise, when in fact most classical pianists who have reached a certain standard can improvise quite well - only we don't tend to use 'added-note' chords all the time, and we use a wider range of pianistic figuration derived from Bach, Mozart, Chopin, Liszt, Rachmaninoff et al. Not to put too fine a point on it, classical pianists have a wider range of pianistic 'devices' at our disposal to use in our improvisations, from centuries of keyboard music, whereas many jazz musicians are one-trick ponies.

Earlier, I mentioned Denis Matsuev, a classical pianist steeped in the Russian classical tradition who won the Tchaikovsky Competition some years ago. He improvises in jazz style for fun, but would never dream of calling himself a jazz pianist. His improvisations typically throw in Lisztian and Rachmaninoff-type octaves and chords and runs as well as all the typical blues notes, added note chords etc of jazz - to my mind, a lot more interesting than the improvisations of most pure jazz pianists. And I don't just mean Art Tatum - in my CD collection, I also have several of Oscar Petersen, Bill Evans, Keith Jarrett, George Shearing, David Gazarov, Giorgio Gaslini, Irene Schweizer, Brad Mehldau, Herbie Hancock, and Leszek Mozdzer (and a few others I can't recall at present).

As for polyrhythm, cross-rhythm etc (not to mention bitonality, polytonality, pantonality, atonality....), that's been around a long time in classical music. There're also pieces written by Charles Ives and others that have two or more completely different music (including different keys and different rhythms) played simultaneously and going in and out of phase with each other. Stockhausen's Gruppen requires three different orchestras, each with its own conductor, each playing different music, simultaneously.

Classical pianists - even in something as straightforward musically as Chopin's Nocturne Op.9/1 - have to learn to play 22 notes in one hand over 12 notes in the other. You learn to 'free' your hands to accomplish this and much else, while keeping your basic rhythm.

BTW, I also have quite a few 'world music' CDs from the East (including Indian ragas and Indonesian gamelan music), South America, joiks from Lapland etc, which I find quite enjoyable to listen to. Especially the ones using microtones. But even microtones have been used by Nicola Vicentino (16th century composer) who invented a keyboard with 36 notes to the octave to play his keyboard music. (His microtonal vocal music has to be heard to be experienced.......).

There really isn't much that's new under the sun grin.
Posted by: Dave Horne

Re: Who influenced Tatum? - 03/03/13 02:36 PM

I don't know why you feel the need to defend jazz by attacking classical: classical musicians have to put up with criticism all the time from jazz pianists for their 'inability' (as they see it) to improvise, when in fact most classical pianists who have reached a certain standard can improvise quite well - only we don't tend to use 'added-note' chords all the time, and we use a wider range of pianistic figuration derived from Bach, Mozart, Chopin, Liszt, Rachmaninoff et al. Not to put too fine a point on it, classical pianists have a wider range of pianistic 'devices' at our disposal to use in our improvisations, from centuries of keyboard music, whereas many jazz musicians are one-trick ponies.

I'm sure there are many fine classical pianists who can improvise very well. I've never personally run into them though.

The classical musicians I've run into are the ones who are typically slaves to the printed page. Most of the jazz musicians I encounter typically don't read extremely well (though I do) but use their ears to a much greater degree.

Being able to improvise is more than a one trick pony skill. We have to be able to improvise in many diverse styles. When I was a church organist I had to improvise in a much different set of styles. In a more jazz like setting, if the bass player shows up late, I have to cover his part while playing what I'm expected to cover. If the singer comes in late I have to make sure things keep on rolling along and the audience thinks what just occurred is what was planned .

Classical musicians, especially those who play in large groups, tend to almost always use music while for many jazz groups the music might more often be an A4 with a few ideas sketched out.

Typically musicians who spend many months perfecting one or several pieces of music don't prioritize being able to improvise sections of those works in other keys or in other styles. We do our best with the amount of time we have to practice and we all have different priorities.

It's all these differences that make it interesting.
Posted by: beeboss

Re: Who influenced Tatum? - 03/03/13 03:06 PM

Originally Posted By: bennevis
Earlier, I mentioned Denis Matsuev, a classical pianist steeped in the Russian classical tradition who won the Tchaikovsky Competition some years ago. He improvises in jazz style for fun, but would never dream of calling himself a jazz pianist. His improvisations typically throw in Lisztian and Rachmaninoff-type octaves and chords and runs as well as all the typical blues notes, added note chords etc of jazz - to my mind, a lot more interesting than the improvisations of most pure jazz pianists. And I don't just mean Art Tatum - in my CD collection, I also have several of Oscar Petersen, Bill Evans, Keith Jarrett, George Shearing, David Gazarov, Giorgio Gaslini, Irene Schweizer, Brad Mehldau, Herbie Hancock, and Leszek Mozdzer (and a few others I can't recall at present).




Just because you own a few jazz cds doesn't mean you understand jazz. From your words it is pretty obvious that you don't get it. That is quite ok though, it doesn't matter at all. Taste is subjective.

A comparison is illuminating.

Denis Matsuev playing autumn leaves ….
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JR255oxNfU4
piano solo is at about 3 minutes.

art Tatum
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9EEdCICnyL0
Posted by: pianoloverus

Re: Who influenced Tatum? - 03/03/13 03:26 PM

In terms of jazz piano playing Matsuev is like a beginner compared to Tatum. IMO he's really quite boring. OTOH Tatum wouldn't sound so good playing classical.

I think there have been less than a handful of pianists who excelled at both jazz and classical and Matsuev is not among them.
Posted by: bennevis

Re: Who influenced Tatum? - 03/03/13 03:26 PM

Originally Posted By: beeboss




Just because you own a few jazz cds doesn't mean you understand jazz. From your words it is pretty obvious that you don't get it. That is quite ok though, it doesn't matter at all. Taste is subjective.

A comparison is illuminating.

Denis Matsuev playing autumn leaves ….
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JR255oxNfU4
piano solo is at about 3 minutes.

art Tatum
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9EEdCICnyL0


Art Tatum does exactly the same stuff in just about everything else he plays - the same kind of RH twiddles, the same kind of chord sequences etc.

Look up Matsuev playing solo improvisations, and you'll see what I mean about pure jazz pianists like Tatum being one-trick ponies in comparison with classical pianists who dabble in improvisations - whether in jazz style or not.

But that's OK, it doesn't matter at all; tastes are subjective, as you say.
Posted by: Bob Newbie

Re: Who influenced Tatum? - 03/03/13 03:45 PM

The problem with classical musicians who attempt to play jazz come across as being to ridged and stiff..a result of too many years in classical studies...
I'm just not sure where the jumping off point is, many older players of the past jazz ledgends
said they had maybe 3yrs of lessons as a kid in classical then went off on there own to play pop/jazz..perhaps this broke them out of the ridged mannerisms and pratices of classical..
Posted by: etcetra

Re: Who influenced Tatum? - 03/03/13 05:43 PM

Originally Posted By: bennevis
[quote=beeboss]


Art Tatum does exactly the same stuff in just about everything else he plays - the same kind of RH twiddles, the same kind of chord sequences etc.


If you think Art Tatum is doing the same thing you clearly don't get jazz. For explanation, see below

Originally Posted By: Bob Newbie
The problem with classical musicians who attempt to play jazz come across as being to ridged and stiff..a result of too many years in classical studies.


It's not really result of too much classical training, but it has more to do with their lack of understanding of rhythmic aspect of jazz and time feel. Feel is something that can take years and years, if not your entire lifetime to master, and jazz musicians are trained to work with different feels. Even swing feel can be vastly different depending on the time period. It seems like a lot of classical musicians overlook this aspect of playing when they compare classical improv to jazz improv

Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
In terms of jazz piano playing Matsuev is like a beginner compared to Tatum. IMO he's really quite boring. OTOH Tatum wouldn't sound so good playing classical.


I mentioned this somewhat in the response above, but the problem i see is that it seems like some people are only paying attention to the harmonic aspect of it and ignoring other important aspect of jazz improv. Sure, concert pianists probably have the chops to play what jazzers play harmonically but rarely do I hear them experiment with rhythm like jazzers do.

I find Matsuev's soloing dull too. No feel, No thematic development, every phrase seems very predictable(in other words no over-the-bar-line stuff), no rhyhmic tension.. it's just lines after lines that goes nowhere. It's impressive for like 10 seconds and after while it gets rather dull. What makes Oscar Peterson so great is that he never fails to swing hard when he is playing those virtuossic runs.

Here's an example of what I am talking about.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GIfHtPwF8wY

In the interview Bill Evans talks about rhythmic displacement and how he uses it in the improv(2:30). If you skip to the last 60 seconds of the video, Marian actually tries to play the melody on top of what Bill plays and she kind of gets lost. I think that little demonstration really shows the rhythmic aspect of jazz that's often overlooked by classical musicians.
Posted by: Miguel Rey

Re: Who influenced Tatum? - 03/03/13 05:54 PM

To play Jazz you need to have Jazz blood, as mentioned earlier it's not just about improvising and one can't just go and study with a Jazz Master and expect to really "play jazz". Same goes for true classical pianists...

I'm a classical guy first, Jazz second but I really despise the classical purists who belittle the Jazz greats foer whatever envious reason. By the way, the jazz guys never had the privilege to ever have formal training like the Classical Greats! And for the poster who said Tatum "seems" to just play the same thing then I suggest you get your ears cleaned and go back a read the quotes from "real classical pianists" and just leave it at that. If you have any respect for Classical those guys then you should accept their overwhelming positive remarks they have made for Tatum.

Moreover, real music lovers and pianists be it Jazz or Classical should appreciate all legitimate forms of music and get over the fact that there are some things you just cant do on the piano.
Posted by: etcetra

Re: Who influenced Tatum? - 03/03/13 06:07 PM

Miguel Rey

I am starting to wonder whether some people's instance of classical music being superior may have to do with their educational background. Don't get me wrong, classical music education is great, and it's great to pursue music in such high standard of excellence. I think the problem is that some people kind of get locked into thinking those sets of standards they've learned are the only legitimate standard that matters.. in other words you get locked into thinking what good music is supposed to be.

This is not a problem exclusive to classical music though. There are plenty of jazz purists who vehemently denies the musical significance of any jazz that happened after the 60s. While younger musicians are generally open minded, some people were pretty outraged when someone suggested that the music of J Dilla had tremendous impact on jazz on another forum.

I personally had to do a lot of that too. I was able to open up to a lot of different types of music by setting aside what I thought good music is supposed to be.. but then again I was lucky enough to be around people with diverse music interest who were willing to explain to me what they saw in the music they loved.
Posted by: beeboss

Re: Who influenced Tatum? - 03/03/13 06:33 PM

Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
In terms of jazz piano playing Matsuev is like a beginner compared to Tatum. IMO he's really quite boring. OTOH Tatum wouldn't sound so good playing classical.

I think there have been less than a handful of pianists who excelled at both jazz and classical and Matsuev is not among them.


Rachmaninov said that he understood what Tatum played, but was unable to do the same.   And also 'If this man ever decides to play serious music we're all in trouble'

These days a lot of the younger jazz guys have a pretty serious classical background from a young age but there isn't time in life to make the required commitment to both classical and jazz except for the odd genius (ie Jarrett).
Posted by: etcetra

Re: Who influenced Tatum? - 03/03/13 06:55 PM

Here's another interpretation of Autumn Leaves, this time by Wynton Marsalis and Marcus Roberts on piano. Compare what they are doing rhythmically to Denis Matsuev's rendeition and the difference is tremendous.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4Xi-emWNePw
Posted by: bennevis

Re: Who influenced Tatum? - 03/03/13 07:05 PM

People want to defend their corners. That's only natural.

Benny Goodman, when he played Copland's Clarinet Concerto (as jazzy a piece of classical music as they come) played it very stiffly, whereas pure classical clarinettists let loose and swing in the jazzy finale. Even when he played Bernstein's Prelude, Fugue and Riffs (tailored for a jazz band), he was stiffer than most classical clarinettists. When Keith Jarrett plays Bach's and Shostakovich's Preludes & Fugues, his playing sounds so metrical.....

Is that what jazz musicians think that's what classical music should be? No rhythmic freedom? Everything by the book?

Listen to Baroque specialists playing Bach's WTC on the harpsichord, and you'll hear quite a bit of rhythmic licence.

Interestingly, as to the question of whether classical pianists can ever play jazz properly, I recorded a few tracks of Jean-Yves Thibaudet playing Bill Evans (from his CD) and Denis Matsuev in a solo improvisation (from a live radio show) and asked my two jazz friends to comment on them, without telling them that the pianists were classically bred and trained. They were very impressed........until I told them that both the players were classical pianists moonlighting in jazz for fun. At which, they became very sniffy, and even cross that I'd 'deceived' them grin.

In case people think I'm having a rant at jazz because I'm steeped in classical, as I said earlier, I actually enjoy quite a bit of solo piano jazz (but not the kind where the drummer overwhelms the proceedings, as I once had the misfortune of hearing at Ronnie Scott's in London); it's just that when jazz enthusiasts look down their noses at classical pianists whenever the subject of jazz crops up, citing the so-called inability of classical pianists to improvise, play on the hoof, or 'swing' - just because they've never heard classical musicians do so; I feel duty bound to correct them grin. Yes, improvisation isn't taught as part of normal classical music teaching, and we read music from day one. But that doesn't mean we cannot improvise, if we choose to have a go at it. I used to have fun with a violinist friend at school where we took a tune (usually from a pop song - for some reason, Abba's tunes were our favourite....) and played around with it as a duo. No, it wasn't jazz improvisation, but it was improvisation. These days, I improvise on the piano by myself, and occasionally with others, but it doesn't form a major part of my piano playing. There's far better written music by great composers to be learnt than my doodlings at the piano.

It's also interesting that jazz people love to quote well-known classical pianists' enthusiastic praise of jazz pianists (like Horowitz's on Tatum, which was also in my Tatum CD box's booklet), but never the other way round. Do jazz pianists have an inferiority complex, that they love praise from people like Horowitz who can't even swing or 'displace' his rhythms? wink After all, what does Horowitz know about jazz?
Posted by: Miguel Rey

Re: Who influenced Tatum? - 03/03/13 07:31 PM

I completely agree with purists on both sides. And perhaps we are all purists in some way, In fact I actually don't care too much for most Avant Garde Jazz or some 20th century musics like Expressionism & Futurism but definitely understand the high degree of technicality and have respect for those composers and musicians.
Posted by: pianoloverus

Re: Who influenced Tatum? - 03/03/13 07:44 PM

Originally Posted By: bennevis
People want to defend their corners. That's only natural.
One does not need to have any corner or be defensive.

Originally Posted By: bennevis
Benny Goodman, when he played Copland's Clarinet Concerto (as jazzy a piece of classical music as they come) played it very stiffly, whereas pure classical clarinettists let loose and swing in the jazzy finale. Even when he played Bernstein's Prelude, Fugue and Riffs (tailored for a jazz band), he was stiffer than most classical clarinettists. When Keith Jarrett plays Bach's and Shostakovich's Preludes & Fugues, his playing sounds so metrical.....
But this is just personal opinion although you state it as if it was factual. However, even if Goodman's performance was as you describe it, I don't see any relevance. It's easy to see how a jazz musician might feel constrained or uneasy by a written score even if it was in the jazz style. Trying to say that the classical clarinetists who recorded the Copland were better at playing jazz is frankly nonsensical.
Posted by: Miguel Rey

Re: Who influenced Tatum? - 03/03/13 07:44 PM

Now that you've mentioned Wynton Marsalis, I think he's the only professional musician that I can think of who as actually professional excelled in both Classical & Jazz music. He is also an outspoken opponent of the modern jazz movement and has been criticized as well by other jazz musicians (modern jazz purists?) for his criticisms about the modern jazz art form. Personally I think he's OK at jazz and excellent as a classical musician but nonetheless he has Grammys in both areas.
Posted by: bennevis

Re: Who influenced Tatum? - 03/03/13 07:54 PM

Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
Trying to say that the classical clarinetists who recorded the Copland were better at playing jazz is frankly nonsensical.
[/quote]

Kindly, if you please, re-read what I wrote.

It's very silly to criticize someone for something he didn't say.

Have you actually heard Goodman's recording of the Copland Concerto? And compared it to, say, Richard Stoltzman's?

Have you ever heard Copland's Clarinet Concerto at all?
Posted by: etcetra

Re: Who influenced Tatum? - 03/03/13 08:12 PM

Miguel Ray

I had conversation with some well known jazz musicians about this, and the consensus is that at one point in his career he was a brilliant jazzer with lots of potential. You don't get to play with likes of Kenny Kirkland, and Jeff Tain watts unless you are really good. The problem is that he was put in the spotlight too early and pursue a wrong path. There are plenty of people who wished Wynton continued experimenting like he did on "Black Codes from underground", which IMO is one of the seminal jazz album of last 20-30 years.

bennevis

It seems like you are being really defensive about this. In my experience most jazz musicians are very respectful of classical musician and vice versa, and jazz musicians are very aware of the fact many classical musicians improvise and improvise very well.

The only time we have a real beef is when classical musicians tries to play jazz and try to pass it off as if it's a real thing. Of course you'll get a reaction from jazz musicians when someone tries to pass of Mei Ting or Denis Matsuev as jazz. It's the same reason you have negative reaction about Keith Jarret recording classical music.

I think it's pretty clear most of the comments here are saying comparing jazz and classical is like comparing apples and oranges and should be compared on it's own merits.. but for some reason you keep on making this about classical musicians being more capable than jazz musicians and keep on making these crass statement (Art Tatum being one trick ponies and what not) about jazz when you don't understand it all. With all due respect, you are the one who started attacking jazz first.

I am not attacking classical pianist or classical pianist improvisers, but I have problem with people making it about who is superior and who isn't. I brought the example of rhythm because there are certain areas of jazz music improv that classical musician don't really understand.. and IMO excel at far more than classical musicians do. I'm just trying to get you to stop pretending like you know what jazz is and stop comparing it to the merits of classical improv.

as far as your last paragraph is concerned... do you realize how often great jazz musicians cite classical composers as their influence? These quotes only show how people of different musical background can appreciate music of different genre respect each other's achivements

Posted by: wr

Re: Who influenced Tatum? - 03/03/13 09:39 PM

Originally Posted By: bennevis


Interestingly, as to the question of whether classical pianists can ever play jazz properly, I recorded a few tracks of Jean-Yves Thibaudet playing Bill Evans (from his CD) and Denis Matsuev in a solo improvisation (from a live radio show) and asked my two jazz friends to comment on them, without telling them that the pianists were classically bred and trained. They were very impressed........until I told them that both the players were classical pianists moonlighting in jazz for fun. At which, they became very sniffy, and even cross that I'd 'deceived' them grin.



Well, you DID deceive them, at some level.

But, yes, it is funny how some anonymous classical musicians can play jazz just fine, until it becomes known that they are classical musicians, at which point it suddenly becomes apparent to those who fancy themselves to be jazz aficionados that the musicians aren't playing "real" jazz at all, or can't really swing.

Of course, sometimes that really is true. As is the reverse (e.g., Chick Corea playing Mozart). Playing idiomatically in any genre can be tricky for those outside of the tradition - I've heard some Russian classical players doing some mid-20th-century American classical music in a way that somehow gained a distinct Russian Romantic inflection (which could be heard either charming or merely unidiomatic). And I remember that Hamelin was offended when critics said his Iberia was unidiomatic - he seemed to think that his idea of being "true to the score" was all that should matter.

I've also heard some non-American jazz players and groups whose style sounded oddly stilted to me on first hearing, even though they were full-time jazz players. But then, why should they sound like American players? It is only if they tried to claim that they sounded exactly like their American counterparts that a problem arises, IMO. Of course, there are those who say that jazz is just what they think it is, and nothing else is allowed. I think that's not very useful, since it is clear that many jazz musicians themselves have gone through all sorts of stylistic developments - think Miles - and unless they themselves say "What I am doing is not jazz", then it still must be.
Posted by: etcetra

Re: Who influenced Tatum? - 03/04/13 12:59 AM

wr

I don't have any problem with people playing music outside of their tradition and making a sincere effort, but I have a problem when people say something like "Art Tatum frankly couldn't hold a candle to his(Denis Matsuev's) brilliant and intricate runs" when it's clear to me and others here that the person who made such comment doesn't seem to understand(or care to understand) what jazz is.

IMO It's great that Jean-Yves Thibaudet is doing a tribute to Bill Evans, he plays very beautifully. But I am pretty sure he is doing so with the awareness that he is coming from a different tradition. He is not trying to pass his effort off as jazz, nor does he think his output to be superior to Bill Evans' output(I think). I'd imagine that's an attitude commonly shared by most classical musician attempting jazz and they probably wouldn't care for this who's better nonsense either.
Posted by: bennevis

Re: Who influenced Tatum? - 03/04/13 04:14 AM

Originally Posted By: etcetra


I don't have any problem with people playing music outside of their tradition and making a sincere effort, but I have a problem when people say something like "Art Tatum frankly couldn't hold a candle to his(Denis Matsuev's) brilliant and intricate runs" when it's clear to me and others here that the person who made such comment doesn't seem to understand(or care to understand) what jazz is.

...and they probably wouldn't care for this who's better nonsense either.


From my experience, it's jazz aficionados who are openly contemptuous of classical musicians who venture into jazz, rather than the other way round - as is already obvious from many posts here. (As well as my own experiences with my jazz aquaintances). When Benny Goodman played Mozart's Clarinet Concerto, noone in the classical world (as far as I know) turned up their noses at a jazz player playing a venerated classical masterpiece. Nor when Keith Jarrett ventured into Bach and Shostakovich - his CDs were reviewed in the classical press in the same way as any classical pianist's recordings would be. Nor when Chick Corea played Mozart with Friedrich Gulda.

But when a classical player plays jazz, it seems jazz musicians can't wait to join the queue to lay on the criticism - 'no swing', 'no sense of jazz rhythm', etc, etc. I've heard some laughable comments from such people when Thibaudet's Bill Evans CD was released. One even criticized his dress code (Armani suits, I think) as if labeling him as a 'cocktail bar' pianist is valid music criticism.

As for my comment on Matsuev, I didn't say that what he was doing was true jazz (whatever that means) - he does lots of stuff that no jazz pianist would do, like interlocking octaves and chords, double octaves and the like (the sort of stuff that's bread and butter to someone who plays Liszt and Rachmaninoff). What I meant was that Tatum can't compare to Matsuev in purely technical terms, nor in the variety of the latter's pianistic 'tricks'.
Posted by: bennevis

Re: Who influenced Tatum? - 03/04/13 04:50 AM

Originally Posted By: wr
[quote=bennevis]

I've heard some Russian classical players doing some mid-20th-century American classical music in a way that somehow gained a distinct Russian Romantic inflection (which could be heard either charming or merely unidiomatic). And I remember that Hamelin was offended when critics said his Iberia was unidiomatic - he seemed to think that his idea of being "true to the score" was all that should matter.

I've also heard some non-American jazz players and groups whose style sounded oddly stilted to me on first hearing, even though they were full-time jazz players. But then, why should they sound like American players? It is only if they tried to claim that they sounded exactly like their American counterparts that a problem arises, IMO. Of course, there are those who say that jazz is just what they think it is, and nothing else is allowed. I think that's not very useful, since it is clear that many jazz musicians themselves have gone through all sorts of stylistic developments - think Miles - and unless they themselves say "What I am doing is not jazz", then it still must be.



I agree with you - even in jazz, there're 'accents', for want of a better word. David Gazarov's jazz sounds to me Russian-inflected, though as far as I know, he's long been accepted into the jazz fraternity.

And Hamelin's Iberia is certainly a far cry from Alicia de Larrocha's or Rafael Orozco's more typically Spanish inflection. And his Scriabin isn't very Russian-sounding either. But it's still wonderful playing, on its own terms.
Posted by: etcetra

Re: Who influenced Tatum? - 03/04/13 06:55 AM

bennevis,

Where i am I've heard plenty of classical players talk trash about Jazzers doing classical music too. I've read some really negative and mean spirited reviews on Uri Caine's classical arrangements. I've also met plenty of people who claim classical music is the only legit music and jazz is garbage too. So don't pretend like you guys are the only victim and the problem goes only one way.


I understand that technically Matsuev does things that jazz players can't do, I am not disagreeing with you there, but don't go around belittling what jazzers do as "Pianistic tricks". People work long and hard to develop those "tricks" and these skills are just as demanding, but in different ways. There are rhythmic aspect of Bill Evan's playing that Matsuev cannot touch too, and that's bread and butter stuff for jazz musicians nowdays. Technical prowess is not the sole determining factor for what makes a good improvisation.

Just to be clear, I only criticize classical pianist only in respect of how they improvised in jazz setting, That doesn't take away from the enormous amount of respect I have for their achievement in their field of expertise. I didn't go around dissing their musicianship as a whole by calling them "one trick ponies".
Posted by: pianoloverus

Re: Who influenced Tatum? - 03/04/13 07:08 AM

Originally Posted By: bennevis
Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
Trying to say that the classical clarinetists who recorded the Copland were better at playing jazz is frankly nonsensical.


Kindly, if you please, re-read what I wrote.

It's very silly to criticize someone for something he didn't say.


You said:"Benny Goodman, when he played Copland's Clarinet Concerto (as jazzy a piece of classical music as they come) played it very stiffly, whereas pure classical clarinettists let loose and swing in the jazzy finale. Even when he played Bernstein's Prelude, Fugue and Riffs (tailored for a jazz band), he was stiffer than most classical clarinettists.

Unless you think "stiff" is a compliment you clearly said what I said you did.

Posted by: Dave Horne

Re: Who influenced Tatum? - 03/04/13 07:24 AM

To very slightly detour this discussion, let me say that I listened to and enjoyed several video tracks that beeboss posted on YouTube. Very nice.

I always like to put a face to a name so to speak.
Posted by: Mark Polishook

Re: Who influenced Tatum? - 03/04/13 08:40 AM

One way to look at who influenced Tatum is to listen (and, of course - that's obvious). Complement that with score study (of Tatum). Tatum transcription books from Hal Leonard exist and there are some other sources as well. One thing anyone might notice (and quickly at that) in a Tatum transcription is the sophistication of his rhythmic language. His voice leading skills and ability to create a kind of extended counterpoint are another delight. A look/listen to his harmonies and voicings will show some incredible stuff as well (Aunt Hagar's Blues in one of the John Mehegan books is a great place to see this). If you still feel after you look and listen that Tatum isn't the artist/innovator many say he is, well, at least a look/listen approach gives you something substantial and credible to support your point of view - which would be Tatum examples and your specific analysis of them.

Another great source is Ted Gioia's book: The Imperfect Art: Reflections on Jazz and Modern Culture. Gioia discusses the differences and similarities between so-called "classical" music and jazz in a very, very insightful way. The interesting thing is that Gioia isn't particularly critical about anything on either side (classical or jazz). But he's very skilled at identifying basic questions and pointing out odd (and often misleading) assertions that have been made when comparing assorted styles and streams and branches. Of course, if you've already read the book and didn't find it helpful or interesting - or if you found it to be just plain wrong much less not so interesting - well, please suggest something else that covers the same ground in a better and accurate way.

Hope this helps ... and if you've played Tatum transcriptions at tempo and if you're still not particularly impressed or inspired, well "C'est la vie" as the French say or "It is what is" as some in New Jersey say.
Posted by: beeboss

Re: Who influenced Tatum? - 03/04/13 08:42 AM

Originally Posted By: etcetra


Just to be clear, I only criticize classical pianist only in respect of how they improvised in jazz setting, That doesn't take away from the enormous amount of respect I have for their achievement in their field of expertise. I didn't go around dissing their musicianship as a whole by calling them "one trick ponies".


The techniques involved in playing jazz are just very different than those required to play classical. Concert pianists don't have time to spend a decade or so working on playing swing so consequently they can't do it to the same level as people who specialise in that (generally, there is always the odd exception). If you measure technique purely in terms of speed/eveness of fast notes played then obviously classical guys have the upper hand (in this imagined battle) but playing with swing is also a technique. In jazz the importance of what I could call 'pure' technique is relatively unimportant in comparison with the other techniques that it requires (such as doing something interesting with a chord progression, playing with swing, responding to what the other musicians are playing, knowledge of harmony etc). Jazz players should be evaluated by what they say in their music and not by how fast they can play double octaves. This is why Monk is regarded a jazz great despite having an extremely unorthodox technical approach. Of course having a good technique (in the pure classical sense) is going to be a help in the expression of ideas in improvisation but without the knowledge of how the music is put together it is by itself totally useless.

(I know you know all this etcetera, I am just using your quote as a way of putting down my thoughts)
Posted by: beeboss

Re: Who influenced Tatum? - 03/04/13 08:43 AM

Originally Posted By: Dave Horne
To very slightly detour this discussion, let me say that I listened to and enjoyed several video tracks that beeboss posted on YouTube. Very nice.

I always like to put a face to a name so to speak.


Thanks Dave
Posted by: beeboss

Re: Who influenced Tatum? - 03/04/13 08:50 AM

Originally Posted By: printer1


Hope this helps ... and if you've played Tatum transcriptions at tempo and if you're still not particularly impressed or inspired, well "C'est la vie" as the French say or "It is what is" as some in New Jersey say.


There is a story about Tatum that once in a club a brilliant classical player came up to him and explained that he had worked out a transcription of one of Art's pieces and wanted to play it for him. Afterwards it was clear that Art was unimpressed and when asked why he said something like 'you played all the right notes but you have no idea why I played them'.


Originally Posted By: printer1


(Aunt Hagar's Blues in one of the John Mehegan books is a great place to see this)



I didn't know that. I transcribed it myself once, it almost killed me. I could have saved the effort ;-)
Posted by: bennevis

Re: Who influenced Tatum? - 03/04/13 09:15 AM

Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
Originally Posted By: bennevis
Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
Trying to say that the classical clarinetists who recorded the Copland were better at playing jazz is frankly nonsensical.


Kindly, if you please, re-read what I wrote.

It's very silly to criticize someone for something he didn't say.


You said:"Benny Goodman, when he played Copland's Clarinet Concerto (as jazzy a piece of classical music as they come) played it very stiffly, whereas pure classical clarinettists let loose and swing in the jazzy finale. Even when he played Bernstein's Prelude, Fugue and Riffs (tailored for a jazz band), he was stiffer than most classical clarinettists.

Unless you think "stiff" is a compliment you clearly said what I said you did.



'Jazzy' does not equate to jazz. Ravel's G major Concerto has jazzy elements - plenty of blue notes etc in the first movement, but it's not jazz. Copland's Clarinet Concerto has plenty of jazzy passages in the latter parts, but it's not jazz; it's not even anything like Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue. Its beginning, in fact, is very wistful and nostalgic, like the beginning of Appalachian Spring.

Goodman seems to be inhibited when playing fully-composed music, like the Copland and the Bernstein, unlike classical clarinetists. Whereas one would think (and expect) that he'd take the opportunity to really swing where Copland gives him the opportunity.
Posted by: pianoloverus

Re: Who influenced Tatum? - 03/04/13 09:48 AM

Originally Posted By: bennevis
Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
Originally Posted By: bennevis
Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
Trying to say that the classical clarinetists who recorded the Copland were better at playing jazz is frankly nonsensical.


Kindly, if you please, re-read what I wrote.

It's very silly to criticize someone for something he didn't say.


You said:"Benny Goodman, when he played Copland's Clarinet Concerto (as jazzy a piece of classical music as they come) played it very stiffly, whereas pure classical clarinettists let loose and swing in the jazzy finale. Even when he played Bernstein's Prelude, Fugue and Riffs (tailored for a jazz band), he was stiffer than most classical clarinettists.

Unless you think "stiff" is a compliment you clearly said what I said you did.
'Jazzy' does not equate to jazz.
Then why even bring up the this example at all? This is just playing games with words.

If you want to distinguish "jazzy" from "jazz" then any relevance about the ability of classical musicians in playing jazz is lost because you say this piece isn't jazz.

Originally Posted By: bennevis
Goodman seems to be inhibited when playing fully-composed music, like the Copland and the Bernstein, unlike classical clarinetists. Whereas one would think (and expect) that he'd take the opportunity to really swing where Copland gives him the opportunity.
So what? It's obvious why Goodman might have felt inhibited since, as I already mentioned, he was not used to playing this kind of music. Since you say this piece isn't jazz it's irrelevant to any discussion about the ability of classical performers to play jazz.
Posted by: etcetra

Re: Who influenced Tatum? - 03/04/13 09:51 AM

beeboss

I agree with you 100%. Your feedback is always thoughtful and articulate, and it is very much appreciated here smile
Posted by: Mark Polishook

Re: Who influenced Tatum? - 03/04/13 09:58 AM

Originally Posted By: beeboss


There is a story about Tatum that once in a club a brilliant classical player came up to him and explained that he had worked out a transcription of one of Art's pieces and wanted to play it for him. Afterwards it was clear that Art was unimpressed and when asked why he said something like 'you played all the right notes but you have no idea why I played them'.



you're quite right to quote that and obviously you're in the choir so to speak ... but the point is LOOK at the SCORE and LISTEN to the music. or reverse the order - LISTEN and LOOK (and those capital letters are rhetorical, they're not directed personally to you!).

what's interesting about the million jazz one-liner stories that float around - is often what isn't said explicitly:in this case of the story, tatum didn't say something to the effect of " analyze or do whatever it takes or whatever you call it , internalize, etc. get to know this music that you've put down on paper so that you really know it"

you probably know, someone played something lester young had improvised back to LY. lester's response: "but can you play me a melody?" so yes, these kinds of stories are out there. and they interpret in a million different ways.

of course, there are real, specific points to be made about tatum's artistry (or lack, whatever the case), well at least a look at score and a listen to something specific (and again, beeboss, this advice is rhetorical! it's to to you personally!). then there's at least some kind of common ground for discussion.

maybe the shortest possible version i should have posted is the old "what specifically did he do and where and when specifically did he do it?"

and one last time ... all statements above are rhetorical and NOT to you personally!!!!!! smile ... or personally to anyone, for that matter!

anyway, if you find that mehegan transcription (which is in book 2 of the jazz piano series), would be interested in hearing what you think of it? it's full of all kinds of amazing things and all it takes to find them is smile .. listen and look!








Originally Posted By: printer1


(Aunt Hagar's Blues in one of the John Mehegan books is a great place to see this)



I didn't know that. I transcribed it myself once, it almost killed me. I could have saved the effort ;-) [/quote]

have experienced that pain as well ... smile
Posted by: bennevis

Re: Who influenced Tatum? - 03/04/13 10:27 AM

Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
Originally Posted By: bennevis
Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
Originally Posted By: bennevis
Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
Trying to say that the classical clarinetists who recorded the Copland were better at playing jazz is frankly nonsensical.


Kindly, if you please, re-read what I wrote.

It's very silly to criticize someone for something he didn't say.


You said:"Benny Goodman, when he played Copland's Clarinet Concerto (as jazzy a piece of classical music as they come) played it very stiffly, whereas pure classical clarinettists let loose and swing in the jazzy finale. Even when he played Bernstein's Prelude, Fugue and Riffs (tailored for a jazz band), he was stiffer than most classical clarinettists.

Unless you think "stiff" is a compliment you clearly said what I said you did.
'Jazzy' does not equate to jazz.
Then why even bring up the this example at all? This is just playing games with words.

If you want to distinguish "jazzy" from "jazz" then any relevance about the ability of classical musicians in playing jazz is lost because you say this piece isn't jazz.

Originally Posted By: bennevis
Goodman seems to be inhibited when playing fully-composed music, like the Copland and the Bernstein, unlike classical clarinetists. Whereas one would think (and expect) that he'd take the opportunity to really swing where Copland gives him the opportunity.
So what? It's obvious why Goodman might have felt inhibited since, as I already mentioned, he was not used to playing this kind of music. Since you say this piece isn't jazz it's irrelevant to any discussion about the ability of classical performers to play jazz.


Frankly, PL, it's getting really tiresome.
Go get a dictionary, or look up Wikipedia. And go listen to the Copland concerto, and the Bernstein piece. You clearly have no idea about anything.

Or are you just harping on for the sake of it?
Posted by: bennevis

Re: Who influenced Tatum? - 03/04/13 01:25 PM

Originally Posted By: beeboss




There is a story about Tatum that once in a club a brilliant classical player came up to him and explained that he had worked out a transcription of one of Art's pieces and wanted to play it for him. Afterwards it was clear that Art was unimpressed and when asked why he said something like 'you played all the right notes but you have no idea why I played them'.




Stories like that are all too common in jazz circles - put-downers for any classical pianist wanting to have a go at jazz. I've heard many more like that, involving some other well-known jazz pianists. But there are none of jazz pianists attempting classical that I know of, that keep circulating around for classical enthusiasts to continue sneering at. Only praise from the likes of Horowitz and Rachmaninoff....

It basically confirms everything I said earlier, that such apocryphal stories still do the rounds long after the supposed event. Are jazz pianists and enthusiasts really so insecure in their own skins that they feel the need to put down any classically-trained pianist who dares to venture into their territory, to keep their egos massaged?

I had a similar experience last Christmas when I had dinner with my two jazz acquaintances at one of their homes. Inevitably, conversation revolved around music, after which I played them the recordings of Thibaudet playing Bill Evans that I recounted earlier. Perhaps annoyed that they couldn't tell that it was a classical pianist playing jazz, they challenged me to do an improvisation, saying what many of the posters here said - that classical pianists can't improvise (despite having played them the Matsuev improv which impressed them, until I told them who the pianist was..).

One of them did an improvisation on Adeste fideles, which basically consisted of chord substitutions and changing the rhythm of the tune. Then I did mine, mixing in Silent Night as a counterpoint as I went on, in a vaguely Bach/Mozart style, but certainly not in a jazz manner. And they immediately said it wasn't a 'proper' improvisation because no jazz pianist would do what I did - where are the jazz harmonies, the swing in the rhythm, etc? (At which I reminded them that I'm not a jazz pianist......).

Going back to the original story, let's see how it would sound if one turned it around: A famous jazz pianist came to András Schiff (renowned for his Bach, having just recorded his third WTC) and told him he'd just made his own recording of the Bach 48, his first classical recording, and proceeded to play the first P & F for him. A stony silence from Schiff, then he asked quietly, ''Where's the voicing of the counterpoints in the fugue? Where are the entries of each subject? Are you playing Bach, or have you no idea?"

See what I mean?
Posted by: argerichfan

Re: Who influenced Tatum? - 03/04/13 02:08 PM

Originally Posted By: bennevis

A stony silence from Schiff, then he asked quietly, ''Where's the voicing of the counterpoints in the fugue? Where are the entries of each subject? Are you playing Bach, or have you no idea?"

From what I've picked up around here about Schiff, I can easily imagine him saying that to any pianist, classical or jazz.
Posted by: bennevis

Re: Who influenced Tatum? - 03/04/13 02:20 PM

Originally Posted By: argerichfan
Originally Posted By: bennevis

A stony silence from Schiff, then he asked quietly, ''Where's the voicing of the counterpoints in the fugue? Where are the entries of each subject? Are you playing Bach, or have you no idea?"

From what I've picked up around here about Schiff, I can easily imagine him saying that to any pianist, classical or jazz.


That's why I picked him for this (very plausible) anecdote, rather than, say, Angela Hewitt wink .
Posted by: beeboss

Re: Who influenced Tatum? - 03/04/13 03:11 PM

Originally Posted By: bennevis

Stories like that are all too common in jazz circles - put-downers for any classical pianist wanting to have a go at jazz.


It is not a put down, it is just the recognition of the fact that improvising something and playing a transcription of someone else's improvisation are different things, apples and oranges.

Originally Posted By: bennevis

Are jazz pianists and enthusiasts really so insecure in their own skin that they feel the need to put down any classically-trained pianist who dares to venture into their territory, to keep their egos massaged?



You are imagining these put downs. Nobody has put down any classical players.

Originally Posted By: bennevis

I had a similar experience last Christmas when I had dinner with my two jazz acquaintances at one of their homes. Inevitably, conversation revolved around music, after which I played them the recordings of Thibaudet playing Bill Evans that I recounted earlier.



I think those are transcriptions, aren't they? They are not improvisations I am fairly sure. Whatever they are they are beautiful and beautifully played, but as I said before apples and oranges. You cannot compare someone playing transcriptions of Bill Evans with Bill Evans himself. It would be like trying to compare someone who plays Bach with Bach.
Posted by: pianoloverus

Re: Who influenced Tatum? - 03/04/13 03:27 PM

Originally Posted By: beeboss
Originally Posted By: bennevis

Stories like that are all too common in jazz circles - put-downers for any classical pianist wanting to have a go at jazz.


It is not a put down, it is just the recognition of the fact that improvising something and playing a transcription of someone else's improvisation are different things, apples and oranges.

Originally Posted By: bennevis

Are jazz pianists and enthusiasts really so insecure in their own skin that they feel the need to put down any classically-trained pianist who dares to venture into their territory, to keep their egos massaged?



You are imagining these put downs. Nobody has put down any classical players.

Originally Posted By: bennevis

I had a similar experience last Christmas when I had dinner with my two jazz acquaintances at one of their homes. Inevitably, conversation revolved around music, after which I played them the recordings of Thibaudet playing Bill Evans that I recounted earlier.



I think those are transcriptions, aren't they? They are not improvisations I am fairly sure. Whatever they are they are beautiful and beautifully played, but as I said before apples and oranges. You cannot compare someone playing transcriptions of Bill Evans with Bill Evans himself. It would be like trying to compare someone who plays Bach with Bach.
Exactly.
Posted by: bennevis

Re: Who influenced Tatum? - 03/04/13 03:32 PM

Originally Posted By: beeboss



You are imagining these put downs. Nobody has put down any classical players.



I think those are transcriptions, aren't they? They are not improvisations I am fairly sure.


The Matsuev was an original improvisation, but the Thibaudet recordings are transcriptions by Jed Distler. I didn't say the latter are improvisations - you're imagining that.

OK, so Tatum didn't put down the 'brilliant classical player'.
In which case, I didn't put down Tatum's RH tricks either, which (as I've already said) pale beside the variety, ingenuity and outsize virtuosity of Matsuev's wink .

I don't put down jazz players.
Posted by: etcetra

Re: Who influenced Tatum? - 03/04/13 04:10 PM

bennevis

sounds like you are just butt-hurt because you had some run in with jazzers with bad attitude. Get over it. For every sob story you have about how jazzers bullied you, I can tell you a story from my life that is just as bad, but I don't go around complaining about it.

Like I said there I've met good number of classical musicians who called Keith Jarrett's jazz stuff junk.. I've also heard/read people calling Uri Caine's arrangement of Mahler "Munity against Mahler". If you think jazz musician don't deal with BS like that on a regular basis, you are clearly being ignorant.There are bad apples in both camps.


Originally Posted By: bennevis

Going back to the original story, let's see how it would sound if one turned it around: A famous jazz pianist came to András Schiff (renowned for his Bach, having just recorded his third WTC...)


Actually I don't mind when classical musicians criticize Jazz musician doing a poor job playing classical music. I am not going to defend Keith Jarret or Chick Corea's recording, and I am perfectly fine with the fact that their performances are subpar compared to the high standards set by professional concert pianists.

Originally Posted By: bennevis

OK, so Tatum didn't put down the 'brilliant classical player'.
In which case, I didn't put down Tatum's RH tricks either, which (as I've already said) pale beside the variety, ingenuity and outsize virtuosity of Matsuev's wink .


Man you are dense. It's comments like these, comparing and claiming Matsuev's somehow better than Tatum that's getting you into trouble. Like beeboss and everyone has said many times, jazz improv and classical improv emphasize different things, and you are comparing apples and oranges, but somehow you insist on this idea that one is somehow superior than the other. Nobody here is saying Matseuv is a bad improviser, only that he is not a good improviser in jazz setting.

btw if you want chops, there is always gonzalo rublacaba
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9npt-CkaeI4
Posted by: bennevis

Re: Who influenced Tatum? - 03/04/13 04:41 PM

Originally Posted By: etcetra
bennevis

sounds like you are just butt-hurt because you had some run in with jazzers with bad attitude. Get over it. I've had similar experiences dealing with classical musicians, but I don't go around complaining about it.
For every sob story you have about how jazzers bullied you, I can tell you a story from my life that is just as bad.

Like I said there I've met good number of classical musicians who called Keith Jarrett's music junk.. I've also heard/read people calling Uri Caine's arrangment of Mahler "Munity against Mahler". If you think jazz musician don't deal with BS like that, you are clearly ignorant.


There are bad apples in both camps.


Originally Posted By: bennevis
.

Going back to the original story, let's see how it would sound if one turned it around: A famous jazz pianist came to András Schiff (renowned for his Bach, having just recorded his third WTC)


Actually I don't mind when classical musicians criticize Jazz musician doing a poor job playing classical music. I am not going to defend Keith Jarret or Chick Corea's recording, and I am perfectly fine with the fact that their performances are subpar compared to the high standards set by professional concert pianists.


Actually, Keith Jarrett's Bach WTC isn't at all bad. (Unlike the jazz pianist in my story who had the unfortunate run-in with Schiff, Jarrett does know how to play polyphonic music properly grin). His Shostakovich leaves much to be desired, though.

As for Uri Caine's take on the classics, I find them quite refreshing. His reworkings of Bach, Mahler and other composers have been well received on BBC Radio 3's 'CD Review' program over the years. (Radio 3 is the BBC's classical radio station).

And don't worry, I'm not (and haven't been) personally hurt by any jazz pianist. (I sensed sour grapes during our improvisation 'contest', and they admitted as much; and we're still friends, and intending our round 2 next Christmas...). I haven't had much chance to converse (or spar) with jazz enthusiasts ever since I joined PW, so I'm just making the most of this opportunity - it takes me out of my comfort zone a little.

Classical pianists like to be challenged - musically and technically. Otherwise we'd never improve.....
Posted by: bennevis

Re: Who influenced Tatum? - 03/04/13 04:58 PM

Originally Posted By: etcetra


Originally Posted By: bennevis

OK, so Tatum didn't put down the 'brilliant classical player'.
In which case, I didn't put down Tatum's RH tricks either, which (as I've already said) pale beside the variety, ingenuity and outsize virtuosity of Matsuev's wink .


Man you are dense. It's comments like these, comparing and claiming Matsuev's somehow better than Tatum that's getting you into trouble. Like beeboss and everyone has said many times, jazz improv and classical improv emphasize different things, and you are comparing apples and oranges, but somehow you insist on this idea that one is somehow superior than the other. Nobody here is saying Matseuv is a bad improviser, only that he is not a good improviser in jazz setting.

btw if you want chops, there is always gonzalo rublacaba
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9npt-CkaeI4


Thanks for that. I've never heard that guy before. He's certainly got the chops, but I just wish he isn't so relentless in his percussiveness, and there is more light and shade in his playing - but that's the voice of a classical pianist speaking.

Here's Matsuev improvising on something we all know. Don't worry, he isn't trying jazz here; just a classical pianist having a lot of fun.....
http://youtu.be/xliUbUfGzYo
Posted by: daviel

Re: Who influenced Tatum? - 03/04/13 06:19 PM

"It don't mean a thing if it ain't got that swing"

Posted by: Dave Horne

Re: Who influenced Tatum? - 03/05/13 04:23 AM

Originally Posted By: daviel
"It don't mean a thing if it ain't got that swing"



There's always the discussion that classical musicians tend not to swing and I think I have a partial explanation for that.

When I was younger and used a metronome I always had the clicks represent the strong beats ... 1 and 3 in 4\4. If you clap your hands in 4\4 on 1 and 3 most music will take on a march feel.

A good friend of mine suggested many years ago that I should try having the clicks represent the weaker beats ... 2 and 4 in 4\4. I don't know if that made me swing more, I do know that it immensely improved my time.

It took more than a few days to get comfortable with the clicks representing the weak beats, but I'll never go back to the way I first used the metronome.

Just passing this on.
Posted by: daviel

Re: Who influenced Tatum? - 03/06/13 11:27 AM

I think there is merit in 2-4 metronome. Can't help but to at least encourage swing.
Posted by: Bech

Re: Who influenced Tatum? - 03/07/13 05:16 PM

Like some others here I would think other jazz players mostly influenced Tatum and he spent very little time trying to learn from classical pianists.

I much prefer Oscar Peterson but I can sometimes get tired of a little bit of too much 'same ole same ole' even with his playing. Got tired of Tatum real fast. To me, he 'runs, runs into the ground.'

Still, it's easy for me to see how Tatum dazzled so many.

I've heard about Horowitz's meeting with Tatum and my guess is Horowitz was primarily just 'being kind.'

Bech