Recent listening, current

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

158. Dick Hyman & Ralph Sutton (1993)

This magical live set was recorded at Berkeley's Maybeck Recital Hall in 1993. Both players have a grand command of the keyboard, and a little bit like the piano recordings of Duke Ellington, they render the music with the arranger's ear for an orchestra. Hyman is off to the left, Sutton on the right. Hearing the two styles in opposition is a marvelous thing. Tumbling down the stairs in effervescent flurries from the high end is Hyman, while Sutton provides a canvas of chording and big rhythmic anchor. Sutton's choruses in tunes like "I'm Gonna Sit Right Down and Write Myself a Letter" are comparatively rowdy, bordering on barrel house, filled with booming chords and a topsy-turvy swing. Clocking in just shy of five minutes, I think the tune could easily have gone another round, but what we get is such a skyrocket that it's impossible to complain. "Everything Happens to Me" is a solo feature for Sutton, while Hyman gets "Ol' Man River" all to himself. In the latter, Hyman's lines demonstrate a dazzling fluency in blues, bop, and balladry. A shimmering collection of piano jazz by two undisputed masters of the instrument, I highly recommend this collection.

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