Various Artists

Stride Piano Summit: A Celebration of Harlem Stride & Classic Piano Jazz

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Stride Piano Summit was an annual concert with a special group of pianists who gathered to celebrate the genre in San Francisco beginning in 1988; the 1990 edition was the first gathering recorded, featuring a rotating cast of musicians, including Dick Hyman, Ralph Sutton, Mike Lipskin, and, finally, Jay McShann, who is better known for his Kansas City blues. Hyman and Lipskin pair up on several numbers, including a strutting take of "Ain't Misbehavin'" (during which they are also joined by the muted trumpet of Harry "Sweets" Edison) and a rambunctious duo piano take of "'Deed I Do"; Hyman switches to the powerful organ at Davies Symphony Hall to accompany Lipskin (still on piano) for "Persian Rug" and "Thou Swell," two of the numbers Fats Waller recorded on pipe organ during a 1928 session. Both of them are featured on a pair of piano solos apiece, with the expected first-rate results. Sutton joins forces with McShann and a rhythm section for "Old Fashioned Love," although they clearly don't mesh together as well as Hyman and Lipskin. Sutton fares better as a soloist in a brief run through "Eye Opener" and a crowd-pleasing rendition of Waller's "Clothes Line Ballet." McShann, who is clearly the odd man out in what is billed as a stride piano event, fares better in his playing of "Sunday" (with Hyman and Edison) and shines with yet another version of his well-known "Confessin' the Blues." In retrospect, a rhythm section seems superfluous when a true stride master is at the piano, but it is likely that the concert producers were trying to add a little variety. This enjoyable date is recommended for stride fans, with Hyman taking top solo honors for the evening.

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