NPR Story
2:24 pm
Fri July 26, 2013

Dick Hyman On Piano Jazz

For this Piano Jazz recorded in 2009, host Marian McPartland welcomes back pianist Dick Hyman, who appeared on several programs throughout the years including the first season in 1979.

"Dick has such great chops," says McPartland. "He can really race up and down the keyboard — he gave me a run for my money! It was great fun having him on the show."

Versatility has been one of Hyman's calling cards. His amazing chops and inquisitive mind have guided him into explorations of various styles of jazz. His Piano Jazz performance is indicative of his various stylistic interests, as he kicks off the show with Antonio Carlos Jobim's Latin classic "Jazz and Samba," which he follows with an original called "Thinking About Bix," a tribute to jazz icon Bix Beiderbecke. A similar juxtaposition follows when Hyman plays the romantic theme he wrote for a Woody Allen film, The Purple Rose of Cairo, before performing the bouncy "Caprice Rag" by James P. Johnson.

Hyman is the kind of player who's up for McPartland's challenge to play a free piece. Oddly enough, the formless improv eventually takes on some structure — "with some sanity to it," to quote McPartland. The improvisation process, which Hyman poetically describes as a kind of "courtship," emerges again as the two old friends wind up the hour with a blues in G.

Originally recorded Dec. 2, 2008.

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