Tatum, Art (tāˈtəm) [key], 1910–56, American jazz pianist, b. Toledo, Ohio. Born with cataracts in both eyes, Tatum remained virtually blind for life. He read music in Braille, but his sensitive ear for music made reading almost unnecessary. Tatum, an unmatched piano virtuoso and brilliant improviser, developed a style characterized by complex musical embroidery, such as rapid runs and shifting rhythms.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.