Art, Oscar, Dave, and Dick.
. Hmmmm. Dick Wellstood is popping up everywhere nearly 13 years after his unfortunate death. The Arbor release Dick Wellstood Live at the Sticky Wicket
was selected as one of the best jazz recordings of the 1990s. Al White, in his book Jazz Party
devotes several pages to the pianist. And now this most excellent solo recital recorded in 1981 at the New York club Hanratty's. I count Wellstood in the same company as Art Tatum, Oscar Peterson, and Dave McKenna. All have a sinful amount of talent. Wellstood, I feel, has the best taste of how to use his talent- that is sparingly. While I marvel at Tatum and his harmonic explosions, I often find my self distracted by them. The same goes for Oscar Peterson. Dick Wellstood adds just enough show-off with out going overboard.
Wellstone's style might be described as thorough. He excels in all forms of piano jazz from Louis Moreau Gottschalk (who I consider the natural source of synthesis), through Scott Joplin, to James P. Johnson, Willie "The Lion" Smith, Earl Hines and beyond. All styles are well represented musically, but Wellstone's stylistic center is firmly in the '20s and '30s. He pays close attention to Sidney Bechet this time around, offering "Quincy Street Stomp", "Georgia Cabin" and "Ghost of the Blues" as proof of allegiance. Tin Pan Alley is traversed with Cole Porter ("So In Love"), Don Redman (Gee Baby Ain't I Good to You") and Harold Arlen ("My Shining Hour" in stride).
Dick Wellstone was a happy kitten on the keys. A true treasure. Let's hope there is more music like this lurking somewhere.