Back in the 1940s and 50s, Art Tatum was considered the greatest jazz pianist alive. (Indeed, many players considered him to be the best pianist of any style, classical included.)
His formidable technique, musical imagination, and astonishing memory put him in a class all of his own, and nobody even came close to him on his own terms. None of the other jazz greats would compare themselves to him. (Case in point, his recording of “Tiger Rag.”)
The story goes that there was a local pianist playing in a small club somewhere. He didn’t have much piano technique but was musical and enjoyed jazzing up the popular tunes of the day. He had probably been playing there for years.
One evening, a “newcomer” wandered into the club where he was playing. On a break, the listener approached the local pianist and asked, “What do you think of Art Tatum?” The piano player smiled and replied, “Well… he’s got his style, and I’ve got mine!”
Lesson learned: we all have something unique to offer 🙂
Here’s another great Art Tatum recording for us both to enjoy!