Pianist Art Tatum is easily one of the most impressive and enigmatic figures in an artistic genre filled with them. His talent continues to amaze listeners with a virtuosity and technical proficiency nearly unmatched in the six decades since his death.
The Mystic Order of the Jazz Obsessed will honor Tatum with a March 23 performance from the irrepressible and gifted Bobby van Deusen. He is to be joined by saxophonist Joe Occhipinti.
A Toledo, Ohio native with music in his genes, Tatum was born blind in one eye and with limited vision in the other so it was his perfect pitch that lit his path. He was picking out church hymns at three years of age and then began to learn songs from piano rolls.
At age 19, Tatum had landed a regular gig at a local club and national touring artists began to drop by to look in on the rumored phenom. In the early 1930s, he was asked to appear on a recording session in New York City and thereafter devoured the Big Apple.
Tatum took the then-dominant Stride style of Harlem and expounded upon it. When a man with the sizable talent, girth and confidence of Thomas “Fats” Waller calls you “god” before a crowd, your talents are unimpeachable.
Entrance for the 6:30 p.m. event is $12, $10 for students and military, $8 for members. A light jambalaya dinner is included and a cash bar is available.