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Marigold, PO Box 411, Epsom, Surrey, KT11 2XA, England –

Billy MAYERL (1902-1959)
Sweet William, Jazzaristrix, Song of the Fir Tree, Marigold, Ace of Hearts, Ace of Spades, Bats in the Belfry, Autumn Crocus,. Shallow Waters, Mignonette, Jazz Master
Billy MAYERL arrs of Jerome KERN Smoke Gets in your Eyes and Percy FRENCH Phil the Fluter’s Ball
George GERSHWIN (1898-1937)

Song arrangements: I’ll Build a Stairway to Paradise, Fascinating Rhythm, Oh Lady Be Good, I Got Rhythm; Rhapsody in Blue
Zez CONFREY Kitten on the Keys
Morton GOULD Boogie Woogie Etude
Felix ARNDT Nola
Phillip Dyson (piano)
Recorded live, London’s Purcell Room, 9 Nov 2002, Celebrating centenary Billy Mayerl’s birth
MARIGOLD 010 [54:47 + 43:07]

Phillip Dyson has a considerable reputation not only as an exponent of British music but of Billy Mayerl’s (‘Mr Marigold’) unique blend of jazz and light music. Dyson has also built up a considerable international following and, for example, he is often invited to the Scott Joplin International Ragtime Festival in the USA. Recently he was the first British pianist to appear at the West Coast Ragtime Festival in Sacramento. Mayerl’s music has, of course, much in common with Scott Joplin’s work.

The music on this double CD was recorded live at London’s Purcell Room (the odd cough notwithstanding) during Billy Mayerl’s centenary year.

Quoting Dyson’s tribute to Billy Mayerl, "He was a seminal figure in British music between classical music and jazz. His influences stem from American Ragtime and Stride through the English Pastoral to French Impressionism. And as a performer, he was the popular pianist’s god. Head and shoulders above anyone else."

His favourite composers were Grieg and Delius (interesting as both composers are often linked together) and he was also influenced by John Ireland, Bax, Debussy and Ravel. As a composer he produced over 300 piano pieces and more than a 100 song arrangements. He was also a prolific composer for the theatre. He produced over 20 shows many of which he either appeared in or was musical director. He also composed orchestral pieces like Pastoral Sketches and Sennen Cove and wrote works for piano and orchestra. Ray Noble orchestrated his Four Aces Suite providing a service akin to that of Ferde Grofé for George Gershwin (Rhapsody in Blue)

Dyson’s recital includes a varied selection of Mayerl’s most popular pieces. There is the ever-popular Marigold with its delightfully skittish syncopations, inspired by a bowl of flowers and so reminiscent of the era between the wars. One can imagine Mayerl wowing habitués of London’s fashionable Savoy Hotel Lounge. In the same mood there is that other well-known Mayerl confection, Bats in the Belfry. Then there is the lovely, limpid pastorale, Shallow Waters and the dreamy, romantic Autumn Crocus - both gently nostalgic. Ending the recital, from his Four Aces Suite there is yet another Mayerl favourite, the suave and sophisticated Ace of Hearts. CD1 also has his deeper, more astringent Ace of Spades with its shades of oriental intrigue. Other delicacies include Mayerl’s jazzy arrangements of Kern (beautifully melancholic and as full of regret as ‘Smoke gets in your eyes’) and Percy French (lively and full of fun).

In between all the Mayerl pieces are the Gershwin songs, breezy arrangements, plus a lively rendition for solo piano of Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue. There are also other little delights such as Zez Confrey’s delightful and popular Mayerl-sound-alike Kitten on the Keys and another favourite - Felix Arndt’s Nola.

A feast for Billy Mayerl fans with titbits from Gershwin and other popular favourites thrown in.

Ian Lace

see also

International Concert Pianist: PHILLIP DYSON Celebrates the Centenary of BILLY MAYERL 1902-1959

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