Dick Hyman not only makes beautiful surprising music on his own — as he has for sixty years — but he attracts the best musicians in surprising combinations. Here are two recent pairings that couldn’t be better.
One CD joins Dick and the singer Heather Masse for a program of introspective ballads — with one surprise, a frisky reading of I’M GONNA LOCK MY HEART with Heather becoming her own cross between Mae Questel and Fats Waller. Masse is a deep-voiced marvel, someone truly in touch with the songs — and what songs! BEWITCHED / LULLABY OF BIRDLAND / SINCE I FELL FOR YOU / OUR LOVE IS HERE TO STAY / SEPTEMBER SONG / LOST IN THE STARS / LOVE FOR SALE / IF I CALLED YOU / I GOT IT BAD AND THAT AIN’T GOOD / A FLOWER IS A LOVESOME THING / MORNING DRINKER / I’M GONNA LOCK MY HEART (AND THROW AWAY THE KEY). Hyman is, as ever, the most brilliant of piano accompanists.
Here’s Heather from the January 29, 2011 PRAIRIE HOME COMPANION — with a tender reading of the Ralph Rainger – Leo Robin JUNE IN JANUARY:
The second disc is more unusual but exceedingly beautiful — a series of duets (plus a friend or two) for Dick and his daughter, Judy, a fine fiddler and composer — who is responsible for the lovely waltzes on the disc. It’s not always what you’d expect — melancholy in ways that mix Brahms and folk song — but it is music that lingers in the memory for a long time. I kept returning to the CD, and there’s no greater tribute.
Here’s the evocative RALPH’S WATCH:
And SAVE A THOUGHT (in a very beautifully done film by Becky Lane):
And should any rigorous readers worry that octogenarian Hyman has “left jazz piano behind,” his two nights earlier in 2013 at the Kitano (Park Avenue and 38th Street, New York City) in duet with Ken Peplowski were evidence to the contrary. I wasn’t there, but heard ecstatic comments from a few people who were there — SRO, by the way — and the duo has recorded another CD, to be released in the near future.
Dick’s stature as a jazz pianist hasn’t been in doubt since the late Forties . . . and neither has his reputation as the great explicator of the art form. With the help of the much-missed Mat Domber of Arbors Records, Dick created a multiple CD / DVD set, A CENTURY OF JAZZ PIANO.
A new book and DVD combination, published by Hal Leonard, DICK HYMAN’S CENTURY OF JAZZ PIANO — TRANSCRIBED! is a welcome extension of that first impulse. With clear examples in a large-scale readable format, the gifted or diligent player can follow Dick from the cakewalk to McCoy Tyner in 157 pages. Now, get to work!
Here’s the Master, himself, doing what he does so beautifully — inventing variations on I CAN’T GET STARTED and I GOT PLENTY OF NUTTIN’ for almost fourteen minutes. Recorded in January 2010 at the second Arbors Jazz Party:
May your happiness increase!