Our 2016 Festival opens with dinner at the Kalamazoo Institute of Arts and a private performance at the Parish Theatre by legendary jazz pianist Dick Hyman, who is widely regarded as one of jazz’s most spellbinding virtuosos. Hyman has recorded more than 1,000 albums, has composed music for numerous films, and maintains a busy schedule of touring, writing, and playing piano that many younger musicians would find difficult to maintain.
“His technique is so polished and fluid that his hands at time seem to belong to two different pianists.” –The Wall Street Journal
Throughout a busy musical career that began in the early ’50s, Dick Hyman has functioned as pianist, organist, arranger, music director, and composer. His versatility in all of these areas has resulted in a long career involving film scores, orchestral compositions, concert appearances and well over 100 albums recorded under his own name.
Other solo recordings include the music of Irving Berlin, Harold Arlen, Cole Porter, George Gershwin, Richard Rodgers and Duke Ellington. Some of his past recordings with combos include From The Age Of Swing, Swing Is Here, Cheek To Cheek, and If Bix Played Gershwin, plus numerous duet albums with cornetist Ruby Braff, and fellow pianists including Ralph Sutton, Shelly Berg, Derek Smith. In a very different vein, Mr. Hyman was one of the first to record on the Moog synthesizer, and his Minotaur landed on the Billboard charts.
Mr. Hyman’s concert compositions for piano and orchestra include a concerto and his Ragtime Fantasy. A cantata based on the autobiography of Mark Twain was premiered with the choral group, Gloria Musicae, in Sarasota, as was the more recent Bottle It Up. A growing catalog of chamber music compositions include Dances and Diversions,Danzas Tropicales, a violin/piano sonata, and miscellaneous pieces for trio, quartet, quintet, etc. Mr. Hyman has been heard in “Three-Piano Crossover” with the late Marian McPartland and Ruth Laredo, and in numerous pops concerts. After serving as artistic director for the acclaimed Jazz in July series at New York’s 92nd Street Y for twenty years, he stepped down, as he has from a similar role in the annual Oregon Festival of American Music. He continues to perform individual concerts in the United States and Canada.
In addition to his activities in the jazz and concert worlds, Mr. Hyman has had a prolific career in New York as a studio musician and won seven Most Valuable Player Awards from the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences. He acted as music director for such television programs as Benny Goodman’s final appearance (on PBS) and for In Performance at the White House. He received an Emmy for his original score for Sunshine’s on the Way, a daytime drama, and another for musical direction of a PBS special on Eubie Blake. He is a member of the Jazz Hall of Fame of the Rutgers Institute of Jazz Studies and the New Jersey Jazz Society.
In years past, Dick Hyman was music director for Arthur Godfrey as well as orchestrator of the hit musical Sugar Babies. He has served as composer, arranger, conductor and pianist for the Woody Allen films Zelig, The Purple Rose of Cairo, Broadway Danny Rose, Stardust Memories, Hannah and Her Sisters, Radio Days, Bullets Over Broadway, Mighty Aphrodite, Everyone Says “I Love You”, Sweet and Lowdown, The Curse Of The Jade Scorpion and Melinda and Melinda. Other scores have included Moonstruck, Scott Joplin, The Lemon Sisters, and Alan and Naomi.
Dick Hyman’s Century Of Jazz Piano, an encyclopedic series of solo performances, has been released on Arbors Records, while a transcription is published by Hal Leonard Music. Other newer recordings are with clarinetist Ken Peplowski, singer Heather Masse, and Mr. Hyman’s daughter, violinist Judy Hyman.