Just You, Just Me
Lover, Come Back To Me
‘Deed I Do
Echoes of Spring/Passionette
St Louis Blues
After You’ve Gone
Out of Nowhere
I’m Crazy ‘Bout My Baby
Dick Hyman and Ralph Sutton (pianos)
Recorded June 1996, Montreal Bistro/Jazz Club, Toronto by CBC
It’s getting on for two decades since those two maestri of Stride, Dick Hyman and Ralph Sutton performed at the Montreal Bistro Jazz Club in a four-hand
set devoted to classics of the genre. Four hands and two pianos is the genre and Fats Waller-James P Johnson the lineage and lode star. They’d been
performing four-hands since the 60s and this disc brings together the fruits of a two-night recording stint at the club.
The title track is a righteous swinger showing all the virtues of a set such as this – where Hyman often seems to take the lead and where Sutton proves as
adroit a soloist as anyone could possibly wish to hear. Slower but not a whit less entwined is Lover, Come Back To Me where a slightly rococo
feeling is offset by the irrepressible, indeed inexorable swing. There’s elegance in ‘Deed I do, which is welcome given that, for all their
vitality, two-piano sets can be somewhat predictable and remorseless. We find here athletic voicings, lively rhythms, and plenty of colour. One might
anticipate that Viper’s Drag would be Walleresque and so it is except it enshrines some more unusual detours. The telepathic nature of an ensemble
such as this – the players would doubtless refute the word telepathic as ridiculous – can be savoured during the insouciant performance of Truckin’.
There are two solos. In his two-song medley Echoes of Spring/Passionette Sutton hints at the influence on him of Jess Stacey whilst Hyman takesOut of Nowhere which he infuses with some Wilsonesque, indeed Tatumesque downward runs. The longest track is the nine-minute St Louis Blues in which Blues, Boogie and the shade of Earl Hines hover, benignly, one hopes. One of the very best cuts in this excellent recital
is After You’ve Gone where one experiences real joie de vivre allied to force and control.
This is an excellent, engaging meeting of like-minded musicians, and it joins a fine, long list of such encounters.