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Reviewers: Tony Augarde [Editor], Steve Arloff, Nick Barnard, Pierre Giroux, Don Mather, James Poore, Glyn Pursglove, George Stacy, Bert Thompson, Sam Webster, Jonathan Woolf



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DICK HYMAN &
KEN PEPLOWSKI

Live at the Kitano

Victoria VC 4393

 

 

1. The Blue Room

2. Gone With The Wind

3. I Mean You!

4. Yellow Dog Blues

5. Lucky To Be Me

6. The World Is Waiting For The Sunrise

7. Ugly Beauty

8. My Ship

9. Lover, Come Back To Me/Quicksilver

 

Dick Hyman - Piano

Ken Peplowski - Clarinet (tracks 1, 3-8), tenor sax (tracks 2, 9)

 

The Blackpool Jazz Party (of happy memory) gave me the opportunity to see and hear many excellent musicians, including the two who perform on this album. Dick Hyman is a master of all genres of piano-playing – a complete virtuoso, even though he is now in his eighties. Ken Peplowski is only in his fifties but he is still a superb reedman, especially on the clarinet. He is also an amusing kind of Pied Piper, taking audiences with him on entertaining journeys. I remember fondly when, at one of the Blackpool Jazz Parties, Ken walked on stage wearing a huge pair of clown’s boots.

Some of Ken’s drollery has washed off onto Dick Hyman, as both musicians seem to have been enjoying themselves with good humour and wit at this 2012 concert recorded at New York’s Kitano Hotel. Note, for instance, in the very first number (The Blue Room), how they pause at the end of the first middle eight to indulge in a flight of musical fancy. And in Lucky To Be Me, you expect the tune to end with Dick’s cadenza but he stretches it out into an elf-like dance which Ken decorates lavishly to make a nine-minute masterpiece.

Ken Peplowski switches to the tenor sax for Gone With The Wind, where Dick Hyman’s playing might justly be compared to Art Tatum’s treatment of the same number recorded with Ben Webster in 1956. It has a similar harmonic richness and relaxation.

The eclectic breadth of each man is shown by the fact that Thelonious Monk’s I Mean You! (co-written with Coleman Hawkins) is followed by W. C. Handy’s trad classic Yellow Dog Blues. In fact the duettists play a couple of Monk compositions, the other being the little-known Ugly Beauty. They revel in the jerkiness of I Mean You! and the thoughtful mystery of Ugly Beauty. And they make the most of the breaks in Yellow Dog Blues, daringly leaving great swathes of silence in the midst of solos.

The World Is Waiting For The Sunrise arouses memories of Benny Goodman, with Ken’s clarinet evoking the King of Swing, and Dick’s piano taking on the elegant style of Teddy Wilson. For My Ship, Hyman creates some delicate, watery sounds and the tune becomes more abstract towards its close. Peplowski reverts to the tenor sax for the closing medley of the jazz standard Lover Come Back To Me and Horace Silver’s Quicksilver. The duo’s mischievous side finds expression in quotations from several other songs.

In the brief sleeve-note, Dick Hyman suggests the challenges of playing unaccompanied duets: “You have to know and trust your partner when you’re both improvising, you must be prepared to be surprised”. The duettists on this album display the utmost symbiosis and empathy which, coupled with their total mastery of their instruments, make for a session as near perfection as we can reasonably expect.

Tony Augarde
www.augardebooks.co.uk



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