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
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.