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An Evening at the Cookery - June 17, 1973 by Dick Hyman

Imagine being in Greenwich Village on a Sunday evening in June, 1973, and stepping into The Cookery, a restaurant converted into a jazz spot by Barney Josephson who owned "Café Society." Along with dinner at the corner of University and 8th, there will be jazz even on the off Sunday night. There is a grand piano in the middle of the room and the gifted studio musician, musical director for many Woody Allen films, and jazz pianist Dick Hyman sits down at the keyboard. The listener is treated to a special evening of jazz by a musician who possesses a wide-ranging knowledge of jazz piano literature. From the opening tune, an intricate reworking of Michel Legrand’s "What Are You Doing the Rest of Your Life?" to Rodgers and Hammerstein’s "My Favorite Things" with stops at Fats Waller, James P. Johnson, Harry Warren, and even an original composition "The Minotaur," Hyman projects an assurance and respect for all idioms.

The story behind this recording even existing is related in the self-deprecating liner notes by Hyman himself. He writes of being recommended for the job by Teddy Wilson himself. The seminal and gentlemanly pianist was one of Hyman’s former teachers. Hyman looked upon the job as a necessary and welcome respite from a busy life as a New York City studio musician performing often in the august company of other jazz greats as Bobby Rosengarden and Milt Hinton. He describes the age old distractions of the sole pianist performing in a busy restaurant, "busy waiters would crash baskets of silverware during my most subtle musings, patrons would chatter, and in those days smokers exhaled freely."

But there was also the occasional celebrity, a regular listing in the New Yorker, and the opportunity to get back in touch with "my jazz roots." A four year stand at the Cookery resulted and, on one of the Sunday evening, Hyman brought a small Sony cassette recorder with a built-in microphone and placed it on the piano. Years later, old friend Jeff Baker deemed the recording of sufficient quality for commercial release and thus we have the bit of jazz history presented here. The quality of the recording is excellent, considering the source and ambient room noises are engineered so as to be only minimally distracting.

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: Dick Hyman
  • CD Title: An Evening at the Cookery - June 17, 1973
  • Genre: Straight-Ahead / Classic
  • Year Released: 2002
  • Record Label: JRB Records
  • Rating: Four Stars
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