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Scott Joplin Greatest Hits

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Album Review

The 1977 movie on the life of Scott Joplin featured Billy Dee Williams, who stiffly played the title role, but jazz fans will be more interested in this soundtrack with music of Joplin, arranged and performed by pianist Dick Hyman, who had previously recorded a six-LP set of Joplin's compositions. Most of the songs are heavily orchestrated, with little room for improvising. The most fun track is the duo-piano "Cutting Contest," which featured an ever-changing cast of pianists battling continuously in the film until they were removed by the judge (played by Eubie Blake in a cameo appearance, when he was 93 years old!), though all of the music is performed by Hyman and Hank Jones, finally ending up with a grand finale of "Maple Leaf Rag." Although this long-unavailable LP is not an essential part of Dick Hyman's huge discography, it has enough worthwhile music to make it worth the investment.


Born: 08 March 1927 in New York, NY

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '40s, '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

A very versatile virtuoso, Dick Hyman once recorded an album on which he played "A Child Is Born" in the styles of 11 different pianists, from Scott Joplin to Cecil Taylor. Hyman can clearly play anything he wants to, and since the '70s, he has mostly concentrated on pre-bop swing and stride styles. Hyman worked with Red Norvo (1949-1950) and Benny Goodman (1950), and then spent much of the 1950s and '60s as a studio musician. He appears on the one known sound film of Charlie Parker (Hot House from...
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Scott Joplin Greatest Hits, Dick Hyman
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