Dick Hyman

Sunday, June 1, 2014 · 2:00PM

Program included: Gershwin, Porter, Carmichael, Rodgers

Mr. Hyman introduced the pieces performed, many of
them from what he calls The Great American Songbook by Gershwin, Porter, Carmichael, Rodgers, and others. He also explored and commented on repertoire from the classic jazz repertoire of Waller, James P. Johnson, Ellington, Parker, and Monk.

Review by Diedre Buckley, Doctor of Musical Arts

Dick Hyman's solo performance was a tour de force of jazz piano styles, from the earliest ragtime, blues, boogie-woogie and stride through bebop to modern jazz piano stylings. A jazz pianist who played with Charlie Parker and a scholar of his instrument, Mr. Hyman has thoroughly synthesized this history into his playing. Starting with the opening tune (“Sweet Georgia Brown”), Mr. Hyman demonstrated that he can move seamlessly through these styles within a single, extended improvisation, all while presenting a clear musical statement and without sounding clichéd. His selection of repertoire was equally broad, relying heavily on jazz standards from Thelonious Monk compositions to “Cherokee” and including a Brazilian version of “Maple Leaf Rag.” He also included two theme songs from his own long career: one from the game show “Beat the Clock” (Mr. Hyman was the studio organist for a time) and the other from the Woody Allen film “Purple Rose of Cairo” (his own composition). At every turn Mr. Hyman was fluent and imaginative, with a perfect instinct for proportion: while some tunes were given compact presentations, others were lengthy excursions of ten minutes or more. Either way, Mr. Hyman always kept his listener engaged and his musical thoughts concise. Dick Hyman's performance was a history lesson in concert form and a joyful celebration of jazz piano in all its magnificent diversity.

Review by Gary Alderman

The Saturday evening workshop was a unique experience. Mr. Hyman started by demonstrating the historical evolution of jazz piano with emphasis on style. This included early styles such as rag time, stride, boogie woogie and swing. He ended with Bebop and then talked about the influence of Bill Evans on modern/current style.

His critique of three local piano players (solo and with bass and drums) was the highlight of the evening. He was able to enlighten not only the musicians but everyone in the audience to many fine points. These included piano dynamics, use and deployment of the left hand in both combo and solo playing. Furthermore he discussed and demonstrated sounds of various instruments one might hear re notes played by the right hand. The evening was a great success as each piano player learned things that may have taken them many years to a lifetime to figure out or realize! The audience learned additional aspects of listening to jazz based on the nature and variety of comments and observations by the master, Dick Hyman.

The Sunday afternoon concert was attended by a full house. The studio was filled with warm and beautiful sounds of the 100-year-old Mason & Hamlin concert grand piano restored by Tim Farley. Mr. Hyman mentioned more than once that this is one of the best pianos he has ever played!

He entertained the audience with familiar standard tunes as well as (his versions) of three Thelonious Monk compositions. He talked a little bit about his career including the years he played organ on the TV show “Beat The Clock” an then proceeded to play the theme song for the aforementioned show. He served as composer/arranger/conductor/pianist for a number of Woody Allen films and played the theme from the movie Purple Rose Of Cairo. He ended with an exhilarating performance of Billy Strayhorns's Take The A Train. It is interesting to note that he incorporated several of the styles presented the previous evening within the performance of this composition.

The packed audience was thrilled with the entire performance. Everyone was thankful and very pleased that Farley's was able to present one of the greatest living jazz piano players to our community.

Review by Chuck Evans

I had the pleasure of hearing Dick Hyman in concert and he was in great form. He's very genial and always announces what he is about to play. His performance takes you on a magical trip through jazz standards, in his personal style, along with the styles of other well-known jazz pianists, such as Fats Waller, Oscar Peterson, and Thelonious Monk. Hyman's mastery of the keyboard is stunning. His descending complex runs really surprised me. Most players rarely use descending fills of such harmonic complexity. He inspired me to practice descending fast passages with both hands. I also noticed his pedaling. He used the middle pedal often and with great effect, employing it nearly as often as the right sustain pedal. That's a technique seldom used in jazz piano. Dick was very generous with his knowledge, and had some witty observations about the world of music and musicians. Dick Hyman now has me as an ardent fan. One word sums up his performance: WOW!