Wednesday, June 6, 2012

A solo treat, brief but solid

Every once in a while, it is good to revisit the earliest  jazz piano styles to reinforce one's appreciation for the bedrock upon which today's jazz developed. An opportunity to do that took place today in Venice, FL - and it drew hundreds of listeners.
Dick Hyman

Pianist-composer-arranger Dick Hyman gave a free 40-minute performance that opened a weekly music series through June to celebrate Venice Presbyterian Church's acquisition of a fine, new K. Kawai grand piano.

During this afternoon's mini-concert, Hyman performed a bit of ragtime (Scott Joplin's "Heliotrope Bouquet" and "Maple Leaf Rag,") "Basin Street Blues" and boogie-woogie pianist Meade Lux Lewis's "Honky Tonk Train," the latter tune bringing the set to a rollicking finish.

He opened the concert with an energetic take on Harold Arlen's "Get Happy" that featured touches of Stride piano and some interesting counterpoint.

At a request from one audience member, Hyman also performed Charlie Shavers' "Undecided" and one original. For the latter, he chose the theme he composed for Woody Allen's 1985 film "The Purple Rose of Cairo." It was exotic, romantic and and wise choice to showcase more contemporary material.

Hyman has lived in Venice for about 20 years, becoming a full-time resident more than a decade ago. He is regarded as a key figure in the Venice-Sarasota music scene with exceptional career credentials as a player, composer and artistic director. For many years, he produced the 92nd Street Y's Jazz in July concert series in New York City.

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