Art had so many ways to harmonize in his head that Charlie Parker worked in a club for two weeks washing dishes just so he could listen to Art. Some say that it was after listening to Art, that Parker was able to connect some of the dots that improved his harmonic ideas. Art’s jazz solos were so brilliant, he was able take a simple song like “Tea for Two” and turn it into a jazz standard that was challenging.
Art’s abilities were legendary, so much so that it was not unusual to see Vladamir Horowitz, Leopold Stokowski or George Gershwin in the audience. Art would readily credit that he learned a great deal from Fats Waller; but even Waller himself once alerted his audience to Tatum’s presence by saying, “I just play the piano, but God is in the house tonight.”
There are many musicians that would hesitate to share their knowledge, but Art was generous. Other fine musicians such as Les Paul and Eddie Durham took advantage of Tatum’s willingness to share his ideas. Art was willing to teach anyone, he just asked that they supply the beer.