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Dick Hyman: The Beat Goes On

By Published: March 8, 2013
AAJ: You two sound so completely connected on that Kitano live album.

DH: Well, I think we know how to do it now. I think we were both surprised the first time we tried to do this kind of thing. I'm looking forward to the next time, in April, just to see what happens now.

AAJ: Will you also be recording that?

DH: We hadn't thought about that. Maybe we ought to.

AAJ: In addition to playing with Ken at Kitano in April, what else is on your upcoming performance schedule?

DH: I have some appearances here in Florida. I'll be at the Philharmonic Hall in Naples several times. I have an appearance in Sarasota shortly after that with a choral group called Gloria Musicae, for which I wrote a new piece that we'll premiere. Then in June, I'll be going out to Lincoln City, Oregon, for the Siletz Bay Music Festival, a chamber music affair where we'll be playing some of my pieces.

AAJ: What professional advice would you offer from six decades of experience?

DH: Whatever kind of music, whatever kind of job, you're being offered: Take it and expand your horizons. Don't confine yourself to only one path. That's my view, at any rate. I've always tried to do almost anything that came up. Looking back, I really am pleased and grateful that all those different opportunities came my way.

And also I would say to younger people: You have to get to a place where it's happening—New York City, still, and Los Angeles. Perhaps Chicago, I don't know. Maybe Nashville, for that kind of music. But you can't sit at home and assume that people will seek you out. You have to be there. You have to live there, it seems to me, in a place where there's a lot of music going on. It's true that there's less going on now, but that's a different matter, and wherever it is, you have to seek out the activity.

AAJ: Technology seems to be hurting just as much as it's helping. The era of downloads into personal players has killed music's communal listening experience. Some of my best college memories came from getting together with friends on a Saturday afternoon, walking into town to the record store, everybody picking something out and then going back to listen to everything together.

DH: And also, if I guess right, you listened to a track over and over again. I think there's something much more compelling about a physical record that you decide to play than there is just to summon down something or other from the universal mist. I'm in favor of records. I never got rid of my old collection. I just have good players and I still play LPs and 78s.

AAJ: You also lose a segment of the music's history: With liner notes, you could read who composed a tune, or arranged it, or played bass on it, but a digital download includes none of that information.

DH: That's exactly right, and there's a great deal of history and music appreciation to be discussed and learned from the old records. You can begin to understand peoples' careers from their appearances on various old records. You're able to study the music. Above all, you're able to hear it many times.

AAJ: What are some of things laying around that you've listened to in the past week or so?

DH: Well, I'm about to do a kind of concert which I've done a fair number of times before. I take an old musical film—in this case, films by Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers—and have a scene from the film projected in the concert hall, and then I play that song in my own arrangement for a few minutes. Recently I've been watching those films and making notes of what numbers to select and exactly how to use the different scenes. That's been a considerable portion of this week's listening. Also, we have a couple of public radio stations down here, and I just turn them on and try to hear what they have of the classics. Now and then I listen to Keith Jarrett
Keith Jarrett
Keith Jarrett
playing Shostakovitch.

Another thing I heard last week: I played a bunch of old Art Tatum
Art Tatum
Art Tatum
1909 - 1956
recordings, which are most precious to me. And by God he still sounds wonderful!

Selected Discography

Dick Hyman with Ken Peplowski, Dick Hyman & Ken Peplowski...Live at the Kitano (Victoria Records, 2013)
Dick Hyman with Heather Masse, Lock My Heart (Red House Records, 2013)
Dick Hyman with Judy Hyman, Late Last Summer (Left Ear Music, 2012)
Dick Hyman, Dick Hyman's Century of Jazz Piano (Arbors Records, 2009)
Dick Hyman, Thinking About Bix (Reference Recordings, 2008)
Dick Hyman, Solo Piano Variations on the Great Songs of Rogers & Hart (Jazz Heritage Recordings, 2007)
Dick Hyman, Moog: The Electric Eclectics of Dick Hyman (Varese/Varese Vintage, 1997 [1969])
Dick Hyman, Elegies Mostly with Niels Pederson (Gemini, 1996)
Benny Goodman, Forever Gold: The Benny Goodman Story (Blue Note/Capitol, 1995)
Marian McPartland, Marian McPartland's Jazz Piano with Special Guest Dick Hyman (Jazz Alliance, 1995)
Dick Hyman, Dick Hyman Plays Duke Ellington (Reference Recordings, 1993)
Dick Hyman, Dick Hyman Plays Fats Waller (Reference Recordings, 1990)
Dick Hyman, Themes & Variations on 'A Child is Born' (Chiaroscuro, 1977)

Photo Credits:
Page 1, Top: Jon Reis
Page 4: Christopher Bunn
All Other Photos: Courtesy of Dick Hyman
Dick Hyman
Dick Hyman

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