Dick Hyman

Beside a Shady Nook

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This mid-'50s MGM LP by Dick Hyman seems like a compromise between jazz and easy listening, not too jazzy for the less demanding general audience, full of the kind of songs jazz fans love, yet not played in an overly bland fashion. The pianist's approach to each of the dozen songs, most of which never really entered the jazz canon (with the exception of his solo interpretation of "Indian Summer"), are lightly swinging, though bassist Eddie Safranski and guitarist Mundell Lowe are mostly relegated to a supporting role in these brief arrangements. Hyman occasionally offers a few Tatum-like runs without ever overdoing it. Worth closer attention is Alec Wilder's beautiful yet overlooked ballad "It's So Peaceful in the Country." Hyman's humorous side comes out with his pseudo-classical solo introduction to the traditional favorite "Country Gardens," which reverts to swing when Safranski joins him. Lowe's chance to shine in the spotlight comes in a subtle take of the Rodgers & Hart gem "Mountain Greenery." Hyman's one original is a low-key but pretty ballad "It's So Easy." This will be a hard to find record but it is worth a search.