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January/February 2006

Dick Hyman and Dick Wellstood
Stridemonster
Sackville

Dick Hyman and Dick Wellstood made this rollicking two-piano album for Unisson in 1987 shortly before Wellstood's death left an unfillable emptiness. We can listen to Stridemonster and pretend that he's not gone. Fortunately, Hyman is very much with us and provides a new essay that updates his and Wellstood's wry original liner notes. Both men revered James P. Johnson, Donald Lambert and the other giants of stride, but that didn't keep their modernist predilections from spicing the stew. Their treatments of Johnson's "Keep Off the Grass" and "Snowy Morning Blues" are incomparable, except to James P.'s own.

The reissue CD has four pieces not on the LP, including Jelly Roll Morton's "Froggie Moore." Sackville replaces the wild cover painting of the stridemonster and his apprentices with a staid portrait of the perpetrators, but a small reproduction of the original is in the booklet. This is an essential album.

Originally published in January/February 2006
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