Arthur "Art" Tatum, Jr. was an American jazz pianist and virtuoso who played with phenomenal facility despite being nearly blind. Tatum is widely acknowledged as one of the greatest jazz pianists of all time.
A child prodigy with perfect pitch, Tatum learned to play by ear, picking out church hymns by the age of three, learning tunes from the radio and copying piano-roll recordings his mother owned. In a Voice of America interview, he denied the widespread rumor that he learned to play by copying piano roll recordings made by two pianists. He developed an incredibly fast playing style without losing accuracy. As a child he was also very sensitive to the piano's intonation and insisted it be tuned often. While playing piano was the most obvious application of his mental and physical skills, he also had an encyclopedic memory for Major League Baseball statistics.
The last two years of his life, Tatum regularly played at Baker's Keyboard Lounge in Detroit, including his final public performance in April 1956. Earlier, Tatum had personally selected and purchased for Clarence Baker the Steinway piano at Baker's, finding it in a New York showroom and shipping it to Detroit.