[Tango-L] Why he played it

Stephen.P.Brown@dal.frb.org Stephen.P.Brown at dal.frb.org
Tue Feb 5 08:53:47 EST 2008

Many years ago when jazz pianist Billy Taylor was on an extended 
engagement on the West Coast and jazz pianist Art Tatum was living and 
playing on the West Coast, the two would hang out together in after-hours 
clubs, where bands often played informally all night long.

One night Taylor and Tatum were in such a club, when a European approached 
Tatum and introduced himself as a pianist and Tatum admirer.  He said, 
"With your permission, I'd like to play your version of Tiger Rag."

The man sat down and played the difficult piece note for note, just as 
Tatum had recorded it.  Disinterested, Tatum sat at the bar and ordered 
another beer.

Taylor said to Tatum, "Ths guy is pretty good."

But Tatum shook his head and responded, "He knows what I do, but not why I 
do it."

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