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!”
, 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.