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Forgotten Dreams by Dick Hyman and John Sheridan

This CD is a novel idea. Two top-notch pianists team-up to perform long forgotten novelty tunes of the 1920’s and 1930’s. There is little need to introduce Dick Hyman and his protégé, John Sheridan. Many of us who love the music of the early years of jazz have had the chance to see Hyman perform in person or have been awestruck at one of his many projects highlighting legends such as Jelly Roll Morton. John Sheridan is the pianist with the Jim Cullum Jazzband heard on NPR’s "Live From The Landing." Sheridan has appeared on several Arbors Jazz releases as well.

Forgotten Dreams is a delightful foray into the works of some little known composer/performers of the early part of the 20th century. An ample collection of nineteen songs is beautifully interpreted by the "twin pianos." Although there are pieces by Eastwood Lane, Bix Beiderbecke and W.C.Polla, the bulk of this offering stems from the work of Willie "The Lion" Smith, Zez Confrey, Rube Bloom and Bob Zurke. Beiderbecke’s "In The Dark" was tastefully chosen for its beauty and rarity of performance.

W.C.Polla was a leader/arranger/composer in the early 1920s but disbanded in 1925, two years before his "hit" of 1927. Dancing Tambourine was recorded by Paul Whiteman, The Radiolites and others. The Wurlitzer Company produced the song n a roll for its mechanical band, ensuring popularity.

Willie "The Lion" Smith is probably the best known of the group having survived well into the television age. His jaunty derby hat and a big cigar were trademarks of one of Harlem’s great stride players. Four of his tunes appear including his famed "Finger Buster" and the impressionistic "Echo of Spring."

Bandleader/pianist Zez Confrey was very popular in the 20s and is possibly best remembered for "Stumbing" and "Kitten On The Keys" of 1921-2. He is represented here by four of his lesser known treasures, one of which is the bouncy "Nickel In the Slot." When I collected 78s, I admit to avoiding all Confrey records. They just didn’t swing!

Bob Zurke is a near forgotten boogie-woogie player of the 30s. The Detroit born pianist came to prominence in the mid 1930s when he replaced Joe Sullivan within the popular Bob Crosby where he performed a great version of Sullivan’s composition, Gin Mill Blues. DownBeat Magazine hailed Zurke as the best pianist of 1939. Sheridan and Hyman perform four Bob Zurke pieces including "Hobson Street Blues", the theme song of his big band. Zurke died in 1944.

I have always been a fan of composer/pianist Rube Bloom (1902-76). Bloom was a prolific writer and performer having appeared as pianist with many of Sam Lanin’s bands of the 20s, and the Ray Miller orchestra. He is well remembered for his stay with Benny Goodman’s first boss, bandleader Ben Selvin. Selvin had a "hot" band that oft featured Goodman and Joe Venuti. Rube Bloom’s first hit, "Soliliquy" of 1927 is thankfully included on this fine CD. Bloom continued to provide great compositions when in collaboration with others and you’ll recognize his more modern tunes, "Fools Rush In", "Day In, Day Out", "Don’t Worry ‘Bout Me" and "Truckin’", a Fats Waller favorite.

This is a wonderful album and I applaud the players for their good taste and immaculate musicianship.

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: Dick Hyman and John Sheridan
  • CD Title: Forgotten Dreams
  • Genre: Traditional / New Orleans
  • Year Released: 2002
  • Record Label: Arbors Jazz
  • Tracks: Echo Of Spring; Concentratin’; Morning Air; Finger Buster; In The Dark; Soliloquy; Spring Fever; Southern Charms; Aunt Jemima’s Birthday; Dancing Tambourine; Midsummer’s Nightmare; Nickel In The Slot; Grandfather’s Clock; My Pet; Lace Embroidery; Southern Exposure; Eye Opener; The Legend Of Lonesome Lake.
  • Musicians: Dick Hyman (piano); John Sheridan (piano).
  • Rating: Five Stars
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