Art Tatum

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Tatum, Art

(tā`təm), 1910–56, American jazz pianist, b. Toledo, Ohio. Born with cataracts in both eyes, Tatum remained virtually blind for life. He read music in Braille, but his sensitive ear for music made reading almost unnecessary. Tatum, an unmatched piano virtuoso and brilliant improviser, developed a style characterized by complex musical embroidery, such as rapid runs and shifting rhythms.
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Tatum, (Arthur) Art

(1909–56) jazz musician; born in Toledo, Ohio. Near-blind from birth, he was established as a jazz pianist in New York by 1932 and worked mainly as a soloist thereafter. He was a keyboard virtuoso whose overwhelming technique and harmonic imagination strongly influenced jazz pianists and the bebop style of the following generation.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.