Dick Hyman

An Evening at the Cookery June 17, 1973

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This live recording by Dick Hyman is one of the more unusual releases in his considerable discography, because the pianist made it himself with a portable cassette recorder at the Cookery one evening in 1973. Although he mentions in his liner notes the limitations of his equipment, the slightly out of tune piano (mostly noticeable in some of the bass notes), and the talking and occasional dish clattering from the audience, none of these factors distract from his consistently marvelous performances. His Tatum-like runs in "What Are You Doing the Rest of Your Life?" are breathtaking, while the influence of John Coltrane's modal arrangement is initially apparent in his approach to "My Favorite Things," though Hyman clearly wails in his own way, resolving the piece right away instead of relying on repetition exclusively. As one of the major interpreters of stride in the latter half of the 20th century, Hyman's furious run through James P. Johnson's "Harlem Strut" and happy-go-lucky interpretation of Fats Waller's "Valentine Stomp" should be of no surprise to his fans. Among the more unusual selections is "Zip a Dee Doo Dah" (from the film Song of the South), which is started slowly and gradually embellished upon in a swinging treatment. There's also Hyman's "The Minotaur," which he originally composed for (and performed upon) a synthesizer; this quirky piece blends bossa nova and waltz rhythms. Any audio shortcomings will quickly become superfluous as the listener is captured in the spell of Hyman's brilliant playing. Highly recommended.

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