Today is the birthday of Jazz piano legend Art Tatum.
Tatum is one of those artists known mostly for the way he was admired by his fellow musicians. He didn’t achieve great popular success, but other players stood in awe of his talents and his influence is undeniable.
Need some evidence and a few accolades?
Here’s a clip from Ken Burns’ series, Jazz.
And here’s another sample of Tatum at work. I can’t tell you anything about the structure of this piece, but I recognize that there are a lot of notes in there. Without truly comprehending the significance of what he is doing, I can easily believe that Tatum is making something difficult appear to be quite easy.
We’d like to believe people who are the very best at what they do will be handsomely rewarded for their ability – that excellence will always be properly recognized.
Art Tatum’s life and his relative obscurity seem to argue the opposite – that artistic genius does not guarantee success.
Who is the most accomplished artist you’ve seen in person?