Dick Hyman is a living legend. Prolific and versatile, he played swing with Benny Goodman and bop with Charlie Parker. He’s been Music Director for Arthur Godfrey's TV show and for the Woody Allen movies Zelig, The Purple Rose of Cairo, and Sweet and Lowdown. In 1956, Hyman had a Top-10 hit single with "Mack the Knife" and in 1968 a Top 40 hit with "The Minotaur," the first instrumental single ever recorded entirely on synthesizer. He’s made hundreds of his own acclaimed recordings and at least 1,000 more with other artists— including a long-running stint as a studio musician in New York, recording with everyone from rock groups like The Drifters, to Perry Como and Tony Bennett. For seven years running, he was voted Most Valued Player by his peers at the New York Chapter of the Recording Academy.
Dick Hyman is famous for embracing so many styles of music so enthusiastically that he is sometimes known as a “musical chameleon.” But he has always maintained a strong devotion to classic forms of jazz. Hyman has researched and recorded the piano music of Scott Joplin, Jelly Roll Morton, James P. Johnson, Eubie Blake and Fats Waller, among others. He took piano lessons from swing era legend Teddy Wilson, sat in with James P. Johnson and Willie “The Lion” Smith at Manhattan night clubs when he was still a student at Columbia University, and dropped in to hear Eddie Condon at Jimmy Ryan’s on 52nd Street even before he graduated high school.
This week Riverwalk Jazz celebrates the music of Dick Hyman. Hyman discusses the musical influences that shaped his career and joins The Jim Cullum Jazz Band on pieces by his favorite composers, including George Gershwin, James P. Johnson and Bix Beiderbecke. Dick recalls his long collaboration with the late trumpeter Ruby Braff, in a duet with bandleader Jim Cullum on "Wouldn't It Be Lover-ly?" from My Fair Lady.
Having appeared so often on Riverwalk Jazz over the years, Dick Hyman is sometimes referred to as the eighth member of The Jim Cullum Jazz Band.
Photo credit for Home Page: Dick Hyman, courtesy Sarasota Herald Tribune.
Text based on Riverwalk Jazz script by Margaret Pick ©2012