Dick Hyman

Provocative Piano, Vol. 2

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Dick Hyman worked prolifically in many types of recording sessions during the 1950s and 1960s before focusing more exclusively on jazz, but the stifling atmosphere of the majority of his dates as a leader for producer Enoch Light's Command label is obvious to any fan of Hyman's jazz albums. Although Hyman is the pianist, leader, and arranger of the Provocative Piano, Vol. 2 session (except for two charts by Lew Davis), Light's desire for broader acceptance by a middle-of-the-road pop-buying audience led the keyboardist to deliver what he wanted. While overblown bongo fanfares reduce "Voodoo Moon" to tedium in a hurry, there's at least some jazz content in "Moonglow" until the sickeningly sweet strings join in. Hyman's approach to Zez Confrey's novelty hit "Kitten on the Keys" is considerably more reserved than his later solo piano interpretation for RCA. "Sabre Dance," which seemed to be mandatory background music for every juggler or dish spinner who appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show at the time this record was made, is semi-classical fluff. Listeners who are nostalgic for undemanding instrumental pop from the early '60s will enjoy this long unavailable record, but everyone else can easily bypass it in the used record bins.

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