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It's So Nice It Must Be Illegal!

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Album Review

The great stride pianist Ralph Sutton is featured throughout this previously unreleased concert, a set of duets with drummer Michael Silva, who Sutton had met just minutes before going on-stage. Silva is very much in the background as Sutton performs some of his favorite songs. The tempos are usually pretty relaxed and there are no real barnburners, so this set is not as exciting as some of the pianist's most stirring performances. Still, the music is well played and Sutton was clearly having a good time playing before the audience in France. The final two numbers are called "bonus tracks" because they were recorded earlier that day at a rehearsal/soundcheck. "I'm Gonna Sit Right Down and Write Myself a Letter" has a good-humored and rare Sutton vocal. All in all, a solid if not essential release from a timeless master.


Born: November 4, 1922 in Hamburg, MO

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '30s, '80s

Ralph Sutton was the greatest stride pianist to emerge since World War II, with his only close competitors being the late Dick Wellstood and the very versatile Dick Hyman. Nearly alone in his generation, Sutton kept alive the piano styles of Fats Waller and James P. Johnson, not as mere museum pieces but as devices for exciting improvisations. Although sticking within the boundaries of his predecessors, Sutton infused the music with his own personality; few could match his powerful left hand. Ralph...
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It's So Nice It Must Be Illegal!, Ralph Sutton
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