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Philip Dyson celebrates the Centenary of Billy Mayerl
Billy MAYERL (1902-1959)

Sweet William
Song of the Fir Tree
Ace of Spades
Bats in the Belfry
Shallow Waters
Jazz Master
Autumn Crocus
Ace of Hearts
George GERSHWIN (1898-1937)

Iíll build a Stairway to Paradise/Do It Again
Fascinating Rhythm
Oh! Lady Be Good
I Got Rhythm
Rhapsody in Blue (arranged solo piano)
Zez CONFREY (1895-1971)

Kitten on the Keys
Morton GOULD (1913-1996)

Boogie Woogie Etude
Jerome KERN (1885-1945)

Smoke Gets In Your Eyes arranged MAYERL
Percy FRENCH (1854-1920)

Phil the Fluterís Ball arranged MAYERL
Felix ARNDT (1889-1918)

Philip Dyson (piano)
Recorded live in concert at the Purcell Room, South Bank Centre, London, 9th November 2002
MARIGOLD 010 [54.53 + 43.09]

This was obviously a fun evening at the Purcell Room back in November 2002. It celebrated the centenary of the birth of Billy Mayerl, whose voice welcomes us to the disc via a speech recorded in anticipation of a Swedish tour. And our guide throughout is Mayerl specialist and master of the droll, Philip Dyson. The two CD set ranges amiably over a cross-section of Greatest Hits and lesser knowns and includes the work of his contemporaries, such as Gershwin and those two mighty ones, Zez Confrey (you know which one, no need to ask) and Morton Gouldís Boogie Woogie Etude, so beloved of the impish and daemonic Shura Cherkassky.

Elsewhere we get some background and chat from Dyson before and after he launches into his repertoire. And itís good stuff, of course; the doubling tempo to end Jazzaristrix, a lyrical and very attractive Song of the Fir Tree and the choruses of the Gershwin selection. He plays the Rhapsody in Blue as well Ė a different version from Jack Gibbonsí as is I Got Rhythm Ė which Gibbons arranged from the two piano version. Dyson is more equable than Gibbons here and in the Rhapsody as well, though he sweeps to a fine conclusion.

Dyson plays a big-boned Ace of Hearts Ė well, itís big-boned next to Eric Parkinís recording at least Ė and his Jazz Master is buoyant and a bucket-load of fun. In Shallow Waters he mines a more romantic parlour song side of Mayerlís and throughout heís full of entertaining sidelights on the composerís musical direction. He does tend to be rather more laid-back and less peppy than, say, Gibbons in his Gershwin.

I ought to say that there is quite a bit of chat, applause masking opening bars (and gags about applause and coughing), boot squeaks across the floor and all the impedimenta of a live and warts and all recording. Itís not for those who want the editing suite to have been on full time active service; this is an as-it-was recording, even though it seems that the running order has been slightly readjusted. For those who like Dysonís laid-back style thereís much to enjoy.

Jonathan Woolf


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