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Piano Solo

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Album Review

This live CD combines audience recordings made by Richard Hadlock of the late pianist Joe Sullivan over several sessions between 1953 and 1963 at several San Francisco night clubs, including Club Hangover, the Blackhawk, and the Trident. Although the sound is less that perfect (especially on the first seven tracks from 1953 and 1955) due to the less than consistent tuning of the various pianos used (which can vary greatly in different performances at the same venue) and rather persistent noise from the audiences, bar, and cash register, this music is quite valuable because it essentially represents Sullivan's final documented recordings as a leader. Although it is listed as a solo piano release, an uncredited bassist and drummer are present on the first seven tracks. Sullivan's best known composition, "Little Rock Getaway," is present but marred by the out of tune piano, as is the standard "Chicago." Most of the remaining tracks on this CD consist of typical Sullivan fare, including a lively run through "Ain't Misbehavin'" and several other Fats Waller songs ("Honeysuckle Rose," "Squeeze Me," and "Keepin' Out of Mischief Now"); three of his lesser known originals, "My Little Pride and Joy," "Just Strollin'," and "Blues for McCoys"; and an imaginative reworking of "St. Louis Blues," which wraps the CD. It's a shame that Sullivan's ill health and alcoholism cut short his career, but this CD is well worth acquiring.


Born: November 4, 1906 in Chicago, IL

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '30s, '40s, '50s, '60s

One of the great Earl Hines' disciples (along with Jess Stacy), Joe Sullivan's style was perfect for the freewheeling jazz of Eddie Condon's bands. Sullivan graduated from the Chicago Conservatory and was an important contributor to the Chicago jazz scene of the 1920s. He was in New York during the next decade and his solo recordings include an original ("Little Rock Getaway") that would become a standard. In 1936, Sullivan joined Bob Crosby's band, but tuberculosis put him in the hospital for ten...
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Piano Solo, Joe Sullivan
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