Dave Ratcliffe Piano
Highlights Archive

June 2022
Genius is inexplicable, but Art Tatum, when asked, usually cited Fats Waller as his main inspiration. “Fats, man. That’s where I come from. And quite a place to come from,” he once told an interviewer. Waller, in turn idolized Tatum. Once, when Tatum entered a club where Fats was performing, he stopped the music and announced “Ladies and gentleman, I play piano, but God is in the house tonight!”
This LP, recorded in 1940 and 1941 after-hours venues, presents, in Dan Morgenstern’s words, ”the relaxed, informal, completely at ease Tatum.” In this paean to the unique spirit of after-hours, two favorite gems are Fine and Dandy and Begin The Beguine. Tatum’s seemingly effortless rhythmic fluidity underpinning and supporting the swinging melodic lines—interwoven with Reubin Harris “discreetly, moving two whiskbrooms over a folded newspaper placed on a chair”(!)—is truly out of this world.

May 2022
Mary Lou Williams’ composition, Hesitation Boogie was recorded by her Trio in 1946. A transcription of this recording is now published in Transcriptions. In The History of Jazz album (1978), she describes this style of playing in the Kansas City Swing era:
During this great swing period a pianist had to have two strong hands. Especially a good swinging left hand to compete as a top pianist. During this period boogie woogie was also very popular. I was never considered a top boogie woogie pianist but was trained to play all styles.

April 2022
Excerpt from Thelonious Monk: American Composer, Masters of American Music Documentary (1991). Randy Weston describes and plays an example of Harlem Stride Piano, followed by Producer Orrin Keepnews, a segment of James P. Johnson’s The Mule Walk (1939), and closes with Randy Weston describing how Monk “put the traditional and modern ... together - so there was no separation” and demonstrates this playing Monk’s tune, Functional using a little bit of stride.