A joyous celebration of some forgotten treasures and some timeless classics!
Brent Black / @CriticalJazz
Solo piano may be the most daunting format a pianist can take on with the duo a close second. Most instrumental duos have the tendency to come off as "recital like" with an apparent disconnect between participants with each attempting to assert their lyrical dominance. Dick Hyman and Ken Peplowski Live At The Kitano may well be the finest duo recording released since the classic Stan Getz & Albert Dailey Blue Note recording Poetry from the mid 1980's.
Hyman may explain this release far better than I in saying that there is a certain level of trust and confidence that must be present to transcend the fact you are working without a net in the obvious absence of a rhythm section. Ken Peplowski is a virtuoso with a tremendous catalog literally stored in his memory from which to draw upon and in a live setting such as this it is crucial for laying the groundwork for a harmonic cohesion between partners. Dick Hyman is somewhere between legend and icon with the delightful x factor here being at 86, Hyman shows he still has plenty of gas left in the tank.
The set list is somewhat unexpected with such eclectic numbers as a slightly reharmed Monk tune, "Ugly Beauty" and a boogie woogie inspired riff on W.C. Handy with "Yellow Dog Blues." Classics abound with the Ira Gershwin / Kurt Weill "My Ship" which takes the straight and narrow but with some inspired improvisational passages from both Hyman and Peplowski. "I Mean You!" is a somewhat forgotten gem from Coleman Hawkins and Thelonious Monk who seemed to double as the musical odd couple but these pioneers seemed to pull the proverbial lyrical rabbit out of the hat with this tune.
Dick Hyman are far from the musical odd couple but they are a stylistic match made in heaven. A wonderful set list performed by two virtuoso talents while keeping the music fresh and pushing the swing forward. It doesn't get much better than this.
Tracks: The Blue Room; Gone With The Wind; I Mean You!; Yellow Dog Blues; Lucky To Be Me; The World Is Waiting For Sunrise; Ugly Beauty; My Ship; Lover, Come Back To Me / Quicksilver.