Interview: Buddy De Franco + Tatum - JazzWax

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April 20, 2009


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Michael Steinman

What a gift you and Buddy have given us, Marc! How many people are there on the planet who have played with / around / next to Art Tatum? Fascinating indeed!

Red Colm O'Sullivan

Wow! This was a real treat, the purely musical insights are remarkable - thank you so much!
The one time I got to meet Mr. DeFranco I told him "this is the closest I'll ever get to Art Tatum". (I also remember him being exceptionally gracious, and so super wonderfully well dressed - I mean real elegant).
I've always regretted, too, that he never made a recording with George Shearing, given their history on 52nd St. (their quartet together is really what gave way to the famous Quintet) - and I do mean even in later years, when both were recording for Concord. Oh well.

Agustín Pérez Gasco

Big thanks, Marc!

The Billy Taylor and the Buddy DeFranco interviews are like a journey through the story of classic jazz piano, both rewarding and enlightening.

Regarding the Tatum-The Lamb anecdote on chapter 3 of the Taylor interview (I'm assuming that "wonderful player from New Jersey" is Donald Lambert), it´s usually told like this:

"One night Lambert got all liquored up in Jersey [where he lived] and headed for Harlem, looking to do battle with Tatum, who was generally acknowledged to be the King. He found Tatum and Marlowe Morris (considered second only to Tatum), sitting in the back room of some bar. Lambert flung himself at the piano, crying, 'I've come for you, Tatum!' and things of that nature, and launched into some blistering stride. Tatum heard him out. When it was all over and Lambert stood up, defiant, Tatum said quietly, 'Take him, Marlowe.' "

[from Dick Wellstood's liner notes to the Donald Lambert Pumpkin LP, also reproduced on the Storyville Lambert CD]

Of course, there might have been quite a few Tatum-Lambert piano fights!

Best regards,
Agustín Pérez

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  • Marc Myers writes regularly for The Wall Street Journal and is author of "Anatomy of 55 More Songs," "Anatomy of a Song," "Rock Concert: An Oral History" and "Why Jazz Happened." Founded in 2007, JazzWax has won three Jazz Journalists Association awards.
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