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Earl Hines: ' '65 Piano Solo'

The cover of '65 Piano Solo

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A.B. SPELLMAN, National Endowment for the Arts: Earl "Fatha" Hines. Usually thought of as the musician who established the piano as a great solo instrument. But here in 1965, we have Fatha Hines over 40 years after his great innovations on the piano. Tell me, Murray Horwitz, why have we chosen this period of Earl Hines for our NPR Basic Jazz Record Library?

MURRAY HORWITZ, American Film Institute: I don't want to sound like too much of a smart aleck, A.B, but I just love it so much! You don't need much more besides a terrific piano and a very good recording of it with Earl Hines at the keyboard. He's so full and expressive a pianist that he gives you everything that you possibly want in terms of a full pianistic performance.

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SPELLMAN: On this recording, Earl Hines moves beyond the sort of proto-stride piano we heard in his earlier recordings with Louis Armstrong. Yet all the elements of that style seemed to be present, but a lot mellower and a good deal more modern. We still hear the kind of up and down, full piano, two-handed interchange that was atypical of jazz piano during the 1960s after bebop.

HORWITZ: I think that's true. And one of the great joys of listening to Earl "Fatha" Hines is to hear the left hand be as melodic as it is, and equally melodic as the right hand. And they are always working together.

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SPELLMAN: I'll mention this too, A.B. He had a complete mastery of the instrument. He plays the dynamic range of the instrument, from very soft to very loud. He can do ballads. He can do uptempo, fast tunes. He does a blues to open the whole CD, and very modern tunes. There's a Quincy Jones piece that I'm very fond of called, "The Midnight Sun Will Never Set."

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HORWITZ: There're even a couple of vocals that, to me don't really intrude. They're very low-key vocals. They introduce you to a very different side of Earl Hines' character. But I can't wait to hear him get back to playing the piano.

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SPELLMAN: So, for your NPR Basic Jazz Record Library, we recommend '65 Piano Solo by the pianist Earl "Fatha" Hines. It's on the Black & Blue label. For NPR Jazz, I'm A.B. Spellman.

HORWITZ: And, I'm Murray Horwitz.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

A. B. Spellman
Murray Horwitz
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