Earl Hines

Ralph Gleason's Jazz Casual: Earl Hines & Joe Sullivan

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This compilation of two soundtracks from the public television series Ralph Gleason's Jazz Casual is enjoyable but somewhat frustrating. Since a televised jazz series was a novel idea, there was no guiding format, and Gleason ties up Earl Hines in a long interview and has him spending almost 17 minutes of the 29-minute show talking and demonstrating various aspects of playing piano, which proves particularly frustrating without having a visual to go with it; while most jazz fans would obviously have preferred him to play complete songs. But since Hines' career was in the doldrums in 1963, the fact that Gleason had the initiative to seek him for his program should be applauded. Although there's a fair amount of talk between pianist Joe Sullivan and the host during his 1963 appearance, fortunately there are several complete songs and many funny anecdotes during the interview segments. Although Sullivan's career was in a tailspin from which it would not recover by this point (he made no more recordings between 1964 and his death in 1971), he is in top form as he delivers inspired renditions of Fats Waller's "Squeeze Me" and "Black and Blue," Eubie Blake's lovely "Memories of You," as well as his well-known composition "Little Rock Getaway." This CD is highly recommended to fans of stride and swing.

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