[Dixielandjazz] Art Tatum (was Mary Lou Williams)

Bill Haesler bhaesler at bigpond.net.au
Fri Oct 15 16:42:42 PDT 2010

ROBERT R. CALDER wrote [in part]:
> There was an LP from about forty years ago which purported to be Art Tatum transcription recordings, supposedly compositions of his own. It certainly was him on "Gang o' Notes" as a brilliant stride number was called, but when the Tatum scholar Ray Spencer reviewed the LP he opined that not every item was Tatum..........With some additional decades of listening informing me I went back to the LP a few years ago and it seemed to me obvious that the alleged non-Tatum items were indeed non-Tatum, I was also very certain they were Mary Lou -- I think the idea with the Tatum was that he would record some new compositions and someone would transcribe them !!!  Tatum?  This might have been what happened with the Mary Lou. 

Dear Robert,
You've done it again!
Quietly slipped in an obscure red-herring.
And what an interesting one it is too.
Back in my more one-eyed daze, a mate had that Fontana LP and, briefly, we wondered about it.
Like you, our ears could not accept that it was all Tatum.
Even then, I was impressed by Tatum but confined my LP collection to his earlier pre-WWII period.
With the subsequent broadening of my jazz tastes (I can hear Steve Barbone chuckling now) the Tatum collection grew, but I never found that "Gang O' Notes" session LP. 
Not that I looked hard enough as it and three other tracks ("Crystal Clear/Between Midnight And Dawn/Apollo Boogie") from the Fontana LP are on a Black Lion Tatum CD (now deleted).
Here is: "Gang O' Notes":
So, being me, I went hunting this morning and found a Tatum discography suggesting the pianist on the Fontana LP is Frank Paparelli.
More discographal searching revealed that Mr Paparelli  is credited with the following tracks on the LP: "52nd Street Blues /Just Before Dawn/A Midnight Melody".
I also found that Frank Paparelli (1917-73) made a living transcribing for sheet music the recorded work of  famous jazz artists including Art Tatum, Teddy Wilson, Louis Armstrong, etc, for Milt Raskin and Lou Levy, president of Leeds music. 
"In 1941 he [Paparelli] wrote 'Eight To The Bar' the first method book written on the subject and considered to be the best. It was a big hit and Leeds Music made lots of money with various deals they promoted on it. Frank made two cents on every book and some glory."... "Frank began to write for the 'Five for One Series' - solos transcribed from the original versions of the most famous boogie and blues pianists at that time. Each book contained five solos and piano notations on the artist's style. Frank contacted many of the artists personally. Some of these were Count Basie, Nat Cole, Mary Lou Williams, Clarence 'Pinetop' Smith, Buddy Johnson, Jim Yancey, Sammy Price, also Earl Hines and Irene Higginbotham, Art Tatum." 
Then I located the impressive Frank Paparelli web site:
where the story behind the Fontana LP is explained in detail.
However, apart from Tatum and Paparelli, it does not identify the the other pianists on the Fontana LP playing the tunes "Too Sharp For This Flat/This 'N' That/Playing In Riddles" and an unissued "Blues on The Rocks".   
I even discovered that the Australian National Library has a copy of "5 jazz piano solos [music] / by Art Tatum; transcribed and edited by Frank Paparelli".
And, for good measure, here is a photograph of Mr Paperelli:
During my searching in trying to find a connection between the Fontana LP, Tatum, Paparelli and Mary Lou Williams I came across DJMLer Al Levy. 
I would not be surprised if listmate Al already has the sheet music folios - and the answers.
Very kind regards,

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