SONY BMG Masterworks and Zenph® Studios Releases Re-performance® of Legendary Art Tatum Concert

6/19/2008 [Pianos & Keyboards]

New Recording of 'Piano Starts Here' Features Vastly Improved Sound, Thanks in Part to Disklavier Technology.



NEW YORK CITY — SONY BMG Masterworks and Zenph® Studios announce the June 3 release of the second recording in a series of discs that represent a breakthrough in the history of recorded music.

Art Tatum CD
Art Tatum CD "Piano Starts Here"
Art Tatum's "Piano Starts Here" album contains material that has been in print for more than 50 years. Yet the original, an incomparable jazz album that highlights the mastery of this singular musician, had been marred by nominal sound quality and other imperfections – until now.

Last year, Sony BMG and Zenph Studios re-recorded Tatum's 1949 concert at The Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles, placing a Yamaha Disklavier Pro™ concert grand piano on the same stage in the same spot where Tatum performed and recorded a flawless re-performance before a live audience.

The original album includes nine virtuosic solos Tatum recorded live at The Shrine, along with Tatum's first four commercial recordings from 1933, issued on 78 rpm masters by the Brunswick label, including "Tiger Rag" – considered to be his signature performance. This year marks the 75th anniversary of those landmark studio recordings.

The Zenph re-performance corrects several problems with the original album. For one thing, playback speed was too slow on 12 of the 13 tracks, so after Zenph corrected the problem, you hear that Tatum actually played faster than has been thought.

Also, thanks to Tatum discographer Arnold Laubich, Zenph has restored about two minutes of lost material. The original album omits excerpts from Gershwin's "Porgy and Bess," which Tatum performed at the concert during the track now titled "The Man I Love." Zenph also fixed an 80 millisecond tape glitch during "Humoresque" that mars the timing on the original album.

The Tatum CD is a follow up to the highly-praised re-performance of pianist Glenn Gould's 1955 rendition of the Bach Goldberg Variations. "A technological miracle," observed the Wall Street Journal. "I cannot over-recommend [the Gould release] too highly," wrote The Audiophile Voice. "You are in for a life-altering experience."

Zenph's unique technique turns audio recordings into live performances that precisely replicate the original recording, but offer vastly improved sound quality. Listeners are transported back to the moment of creation and experience Tatum's playing as if they were in the room when the original recordings were made.

Zenph captures the musical nuances of the original recording, with details about the pedal actions, volume and articulations down to millisecond timings. This new digital data, transcribed into high-resolution MIDI files, is played back on a state-of-the-art Yamaha Disklavier Pro™ concert grand piano. The process allows for the production of pristine new renderings that transcend the limitations of the original recording process.

What's more, Zenph's new technique lets renowned historic performances be heard for the first time in state-of-the-art sound. SONY BMG's new disc is a hybrid surround-sound SACD/CD disc, which plays on all traditional CD players and sounds magnificent on newer Super Audio (SACD) players. It also includes a binaural version of the re-performance that provides an immersive experience that, when listened to with headphones, replicates what Tatum would have heard while he sat in the piano bench.

SONY BMG assembled its top producers and engineers for the Tatum project, including Steve Epstein, five-time Grammy® Award winner for "Producer of the Year," Richard King, a three-time Grammy® winner, and Gus Skinas, renowned for his expertise in high-resolution surround-sound recording. Piano voicer Marc Wienert is the main subject of the acclaimed book Grand Obsession by Perri Knize.

For more information, write Yamaha Corporation of America, Piano Division, P.O. Box 6600, Buena Park, CA 90622, telephone (714) 522-9011, or e-mail infostation@yamaha.com.

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