Richard “Dick: Hyman was born on March 8, 1927 in Manhattan, New York. He was a famous pianist, composer, conductor and arranger. He toured Europe with Benny Goodman in 1950. He was music director of Arthur Godfrey And His Friends from 1958 – 1962. In the 1960s, Hyman recorded several innovative pop albums on Enoch Light's Command Records. At first, he used the Lowrey organ, later replaced by Moog synthesizer. His most famous single, however, was Moritat (A Theme From The Three Penny Opera)(8/1956) The Minotaur, by Dick Hyman & His Electric Eclectics, also made the Top 40 (38/1969).
This CD from Sepia Records contains two complete albums by Dick Hyman & His Orchestra: I have compiled the song listing which is as follows:
LP “PROVOCATIVE PIANO VOLUME I” (Command 811)(1960): 01 CUMANA 02 NEAR YOU 03 POLONAISE (IN A-FLAT MAJOR) 04 AUTUMN LEAVES 05 TCHAIKOVSKY: PIANO CONCERTO NO. 1 06 CANADIAN SUNSET 07 WARSAW CONCERTO 08 SUNRISE SERENADE 09 MISERLOU 10 CHOPIN: NOCTURNE IN E-FLAT 11 NOLA 12 AUTUMN NOCTURNE
LP “PROVOCATIVE PIANO VOLUME II” (Command 824)(1961): 13 VOODOO MOON 14 MOONGLOW/THEME FROM PICNIC 15 KITTEN ON THE KEYS 16 SNOWFALL 17 THE SABRE DANCE 18 DEEP PURPLE 19 BOOGIE WOOGIE 20 SOFT SUMMER BREEZE 21 HEART AND SOUL 22 LIEBESTRAUM 23 THEME FROM THE APARTMENT 24 MACK THE KNIFE
1 Dick Hyman’s albums are hard to come by, especially CDs. These two albums with many familiar songs are indeed a rare treat, making their CD debut! 2 Sepia Records uses Cedar 24 bit Mastering. As per their high standard, the remastered sound is clean and vibrant, simply top of the line. 3 There is a 8-page booklet containing the original LP liner notes. The two front album covers are featured each on an entire page.
1 There is no chart information on the booklet. 2 One page of the booklet was devoted to their advertisement. I would have preferred to have the back covers of the albums included too, one for each page.
I hope reissue labels, like Real Gone Music, Jasmine Records and Sepia Records will release more Dick Hyman albums in the future. The best will be the type by Real Gone Music: 8 Classics Albums on 4 CDs. I personally like to collect as many albums on Command label as possible, like Enoch Light, Tony Mottola and Ray Charles Singers (their latest CD release Something Wonderful: my review elsewhere). If you like crisp piano style, Dick Hyman is definitely up your alley. The sound is remastered exceedingly well. With the rarity of his albums, this CD is highly recommended.
Provocative Piano I & II, Dick Hyman and his Orchestra, SEPIA 1255
Original album details: Provocative Piano, volume 1 (1960) Command – RS 811 SD, Vinyl, LP, Album, Stereo Provocative Piano, volume 2 (1961) Command – RS 824 SD, Command – RS 824-S.D. Vinyl, LP, Album
It is interesting that these albums appear to be dismissed by some reviewers preferring the improvisational jazz playing of Dick Hyman (full stop). I do not think that Dick Hyman does any disservice to classical; jazz or middle of the road. If anything he displays a built in ability to adapt which makes these recordings a joy.
Please note that these 2 albums have been long out of print and this is their first appearance on CD. Thank you Sepia for bringing these to our attention as they should not be dismissed.
I am listening to the albums as I consider what to write. Well first off the sound quality is brilliant so I cannot give the CD less than 5 for sound quality.
I suspect that Dick Hyman was attracted to Enoch Light's idea of presenting a collection of the most popular piano pieces of the time, popular songs; instrumentals and the classics. The playing of the piano and the orchestra is captured in full dimensional stereo not as a gimmick but as a way of providing me/us with the finest studio experience.
I have read that these albums should be passed by and yet I cannot hear the reason for such a harsh statement. All I can hear is crystal clear piano playing that is full of atmosphere beautifully caught in sound and now available on Cr for the very first time.
Needless to say the popularity of the first album resulted in the second and it followed the same theme.
Included on the first album tracks 1-12 are some of my all time favourite musical numbers and I would recommend a listen to Autumn Leaves; Canadian Sunset; Warsaw Concerto; Chopin: Nocturne in E Flat & Miserlou as justification for the idea in the first place.
The second album tracks 13-24 opens with a number (Voodoo Moon) I was most familiar from the fingers of Carmen Cavallaro and yet this brings yet another dimension to an almost hypnotic composition. Moonglow, the theme from the film Picnic could not be more different with its jazz trio centrepiece encased with strings. I always liked Claude Thornhill's, Snowfall and this arrangement makes me enjoy it even more. Loved the whistling opening treatment of Mack the Knife and the centrepiece piano. Very evocative.
I feel sure that many a middle of the road jazz fan will enjoy these albums and like me have plenty of fun listening to the playing and wonderful sound recording that some call provocative...
The original album liner notes are included. Running time 75.23
As a versatile American jazz pianist/keyboard genius and composer, Dick Hyman’s fifty-year career can best be described as being a “Jack-of-all-trades” with his talent as pianist, organist, arranger, music director and composer associated with well over one hundred albums – either in his own name or in support of others.
Recorded in 1960 and 1961, these Command albums, produced by Enoch Light, have been combined for this first time on CD release and naturally fit like a hand in a glove; giving double pleasure and serving as typical fare for Hyman’s entertaining wide-ranging awareness and appreciation for all kinds of music. Light classics by Chopin, Tchaikovsky, Khachaturian and Liszt share track-space with more modern classics, WARSAW CONCERTO and MACK THE KNIFE, film themes from THE APARTMENT and PICNIC, tried and true oldies, NEAR YOU, NOLA, SNOWFALL, DEEP PURPLE and HEART AND SOUL, Latin toe-tappers CUMANA, MISERLOU and VOODOO MOON as well as Fifties pop favourites CANADIAN SUNSET and SOFT SUMMER BREEZE.
With full orchestral backing as required, Hyman’s piano keys are fore-front for a real work-out and in accordance with all Command recordings, the intention was (and still is) to bring the full stereophonic range to home hi-fi equipment. As such, the music is brilliantly performed and presented.