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Saturday, June 6, 2009

Piano Starts Here (Picture Book)

Released January 2008

Reviewed by Deb Fowler

Art Tatum was a little boy born in Toledo. His father was a mechanic and his mother, who loved to sing in church, did a lot of cleaning. His mother played the piano, but mostly it sat “quietly in the corner,” until one day he became tall enough to hit the keys on the keyboard. He banged at it, played with one finger, two fingers and before you could wink an eye it started to sound very good. Even his mother said it did. He loved to play on the piano and didn’t care much about night or day and because his eyes were so bad he really couldn’t tell the difference.

“Don’t wear out that piano today,” his father said to him before he left for work. Art just loved his piano. By the time he was ten he was asked to play in church. A little case of jitters immediately went away when he touched the keyboard. Later he was asked to play at the YMCA, then at a bake sale and even someone’s birthday party. “My, my, isn’t he something,” his mother gushed. More and more he was asked to play until he became famous, but he still remembered and loved “all the people who helped” him.

This was a wonderful story. It was written in a gentle, sing song tone and was quite inspiring. The watercolors meshed quite well with the text. In the back of the book Robert Andrew Parker writes about actually meeting and listening to Art play. There is a brief, but very interesting biography of art and a bibliography. This book would be very appealing to any jazz fan and will be appreciated and loved even by those unacquainted with his work.

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