[[quoteright:239:http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/arttatum_8149.jpg]]

-->"I only play the piano, but tonight God is in the house."
-->-- '''FatsWaller'''

Art Tatum (1909-1956) was a {{Jazz}} pianist who was acclaimed to be {{God}}.

Tatum was a largely self-taught ChildProdigy, and legally blind for most of his life. He developed a technique of stride style with lightning-fast cadenzas, runs, and flourishes that are [[SugarWiki/AwesomeMusic still awe-inspiring today]].

He was regarded with awe by his contemporaries, including jazz greats such as Music/CharlieParker, OscarPeterson, DaveBrubeck, TeddyWilson, and classical pianists including VladimirHorowitz, ArturRubinstein, and Music/SergeiRachmaninoff. Mind you, this isn't just the usual respect musicians give to a talented peer; we're talking about quotes like:

-->"If you put a piano in a room, just a bare piano. Then you get all the finest jazz pianists in the world and let them play in the presence of Art Tatum. Then let Art Tatum play ... everyone there will sound like an amateur."
-->--TeddyWilson

-->"I wish I could play like Tatum's right hand!"
-->--Charlie Parker

-->"First you speak of Art Tatum, then take a long deep breath, and you speak of the other pianists."
-->--DizzyGillespie

His music was featured in the TV series ''Series/{{Everwood}}'', and he was portrayed briefly by Johnny O'Neill in the movie ''Film/{{Ray}}''. He was also a major influence on Johnny Costa, the accompanist for ''Series/MisterRogersNeighborhood'', on whom he bestowed the nickname "the white Tatum."

As usual, you can find the basics at [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Art_Tatum The Other Wiki]].


!!Tropes:

* BlindMusician
* ChildProdigy
* DownerEnding: His death from renal failure at 47.
* LetsSeeYouDoBetter: Bud Powell once tried to one-up Tatum's speed and technique. Tatum laughingly replied, "Look, you come in here tomorrow, and anything you do with your right hand, I'll do with my left."
* OneManArmy: More specifically, a one-man band. Once, five bass players, Ray Brown included, tried to play with him all at once. They eventually fell down "one by one by the wayside" to the floor like a "nice bunch of little kids."
* ThePianoPlayer: Tatum spent most of his life playing at jazz clubs rather than concerts. Though he was extremely talented, he didn't earn the recognition of the more respected classical players. Those who met him, however, couldn't do anything else but marvel at his ability. In one of these clubs, he met famous classical pianist Vladimir Horowitz, who is said to have remarked, "I can play as fast as you, but I can't keep up with you!"
* SpiritedCompetitor: Tatum loved to compete with the other renowned players of his era, though he quickly blew away those at the top and considered it all quite of a joke afterwards. He is said to have competed with another pianist ''24-7''. A little more believable story recounts a boastful drummer who thought he could keep playing longer than any pianist, until he gave up playing for 5 hours against Art.
** Art once passed by Madison Square Garden, then a famous site where contests were held between ragtime piano players. Jokingly, he remarked,
--> You know, I'd like to rent that place, I'd like to rent Madison Square Garden, and I'd like to take on all the piano players and for once and for all settle it. Rather than me go around from nightclub to nightclub to beat these guys, [[BadassBoast I'd like to get 'em all in one place and knock 'em all off.]]
* UrbanLegend: The story goes that Tatum learned to play the piano by listening to player piano rolls that later turned out to be pieces for two pianists. It's not actually true, but you can definitely see how it would have gotten started.