The English pianist Alan Clare was once intrigued with a workman who was carrying out some remodeling inside his house. Clare was playing some recordings, and he began to notice that the workman was whistling along with whatever music he put on – Beethoven, Rachmaninoff, it didn’t seem to matter. Even if he hadn’t heard it before, he had the natural musical ability to follow a melody closely and almost automatically. Clare decided to give him a real test and dug up his recording of Art Tatum doing Tea For Two, with the ground-breaking chord changes Tatum introduced into the tune. The workman never lost a beat nor did he lay out for a bar or two to figure out what was going on. He tracked Tatum flawlessly through all his changes, and when the record ended, he spoke for the first time. He glanced at Clare and with classic English understatement said, ‘Tricky f**ker, ain’t he?’

Art Tatum

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