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A Night In Dublin

Dick Wellstood

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Album Review

The great stride pianist Dick Wellstood, who died in 1987, was best heard as a soloist in a live setting, which this CD is. This performance, taped during a 1977 appearance in a Dublin, Ireland, bar called the Merrion Inn, was discovered in 2000 by clarinetist Kenny Davern in the home of an Irish fan, who had recorded it with Wellstood's permission. Like the earlier Wellstood CD Live at the Sticky Wicket (which is also available on Arbors Jazz), this nightclub set preserves Wellstood's witty and sometimes sarcastic introductions to the songs. His foot tapping is frequently audible, adding an extra touch of rhythm and never distracting from the music. He first plays a series of rags, explaining to his audience how stride evolved from ragtime, including the well-known ("Maple Leaf Rag" and "Pork and Beans"), the forgotten (Joplin's "Fig Leaf Rag"), and novelty rags such as Zez Confrey's "Kitten on the Keys" and George Cobb's "Russian Rag" (which was derived from a Rachmaninoff work). Wellstood's chops are in top form throughout the cream of the stride compositions that he plays: "Carolina Shout," "Viper's Drag," "Handful of Keys," plus a medley of four more Fats Waller tunes. But he is at his most amazing when adapting non-jazz works into ragtime or stride. "Paganini's Thing" was adapted from a piece by the 19th century classical violinist Nicholo Paganini by Wellstood himself. As on his earlier Arbors Jazz CD, Wellstood plays his very amusing stride take of John Coltrane's landmark modal work "Giant Steps," a rapid-fire ragtime version of Cole Porter's "I Concentrate on You," and a rag version of the normally extremely lame Andrew Lloyd Webber hit "Superstar" ("made famous by such jazz artists as Bette Midler and the Carpenters," Wellstood deadpans). Of course, a medley of works from the Duke Ellington songbook is naturally suited for stride, since Ellington's own playing was firmly rooted in ragtime and stride; his up-tempo rendition of "Caravan" wraps this exciting medley. He signs off with a quick chorus of his original "Just the Blues." Even though this nightclub performance has the usual clinking glasses, occasional cash register noise, and talking from the audience, the sound is very pleasing and is worthy of comparison to many professionally recorded CDs and LPs in similar venues. This CD serves as an excellent introduction to the playing of Dick Wellstood and should be an essential acquisition for any fan of ragtime and/or stride piano.

Biography

Born: 25 November 1927 in Greenwich, CT

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s

One of the two great stride pianists (along with Ralph Sutton) to emerge during the 1940s when members of their generation were generally playing bebop, Wellstood kept an open mind toward later styles (he loved Monk) while sounding at his best playing classic jazz. A little more subtle than Sutton, Wellstood was also a powerful pianist who was a superb interpreter of the music of James P. Johnson and his contemporaries. He came to New York with Bob Wilber's Wildcats in 1946 and caught on in the trad...
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A Night In Dublin, Dick Wellstood
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  • 9,99 €
  • Genres: Jazz, Music, Trad Jazz
  • Released: 03 April 2001

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