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Live At the Sticky Wicket

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Album Review

The Big Three of post-World War II stride piano were Ralph Sutton, Dick Hyman and the late Dick Wellstood, who passed away in 1987. This double CD from 1997, recorded just 8½ months before Wellstood's death, contains all of the music performed by the pianist during an informal club appearance and recorded privately with his permission; it was released here for the first time. Although a masterful stride player, Wellstood was not unaware of later developments in jazz (he always liked Thelonious Monk), and his extensive program even features a striding version of "Giant Steps," which he turns into a bit of a joke. An expert at interpreting James P. Johnson tunes, Wellstood also includes a variety of swing standards, Duke Ellington numbers and selections by Fats Waller, Jelly Roll Morton and George Gershwin, among many others. He informally talks to the audience about the music between most of the songs, answers a few requests and cracks some jokes. Although the talking may seem a bit tiresome by the third listen, Wellstood's piano playing is heard throughout in prime form and is filled with many exciting moments. Highly recommended to lovers of stride piano.

Biography

Born: November 25, 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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Live At the Sticky Wicket, Dick Wellstood
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