Few will argue if I suggest that Dick Wellstood was one of the finest traditional pianists on the scene in recent decades. Wellstood is mentioned in the same breath as Ralph Sutton, Joe Sullivan, Wally Rose and Knocky Parker. His friend, clarinetist Kenny Davern wrote the notes for this fine album and aims one remark clearly at critics and reviewers. "Enjoy it for what you hear. It needs no critique or tune-by-tune analysis". This reviewer agrees totally and will abide by Kenny's wishes.
In 1977, Dick Wellstood was invited to perform for the Dublin (Ireland) Traditional Jazz Society before a polite and appreciative audience. The concert was recorded by the club's president, Ralph O' Callaghan on his new stereo reel to reel recorder. We hear 72 minutes of the revered pianist at his very best, rendering rags, blues, swing and stride pieces accompanied only by his stomping foot and short monologues. What a delight!
Wellstood weaves his merry way through some early rags, working up to a healthy helping of his beloved "stride" style and tunes by James P. Johnson and Fat's Waller. As a special treat Wellstood takes a humorous tour of John Coltrane's "Giant Steps" in his own traditional way and the crowd loves it. You'll hear a total of 31 tunes, some of which are done in medley style. You can see the entire list at Arbors' website but I'll mention just a few: Snowy Morning Blues, Viper's Drag, Kitten On The Keys, Paganini's Thing, Carolina Shout and Handful Of Keys. A beautiful Ellington medley is also included.
Dick Wellstood was born in Greenwich, CT in 1927. Although best remembered for his work with Bob Wilber and Sidney Bechet, Dick performed with Conrad Janis' Tailgate Five, Roy Eldridge, Henry "Red" Allen, Wild Bill Davison, Gene Krupa and Vic Dickenson. A practicing lawyer, the pianist was in and out of music through the 1970s and reappeared in the 80s. Dick passed away at Palo Alto, CA in 1987. He won't soon be forgotten either as a musician or a gentleman. This is a highly recommended recording. You'll look far and wide to find a better stride player.