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July/August 2007

Meral Guneyman with Dick Hyman
Playful Virtuosity
Rykodisc

Meral Guneyman has won many awards as a classical concert pianist and has performed with Michael Tilson Thomas, Leon Fleischer and the Pittsburgh and Baltimore Symphonies. Dick Hyman is the octogenarian master of all jazz piano styles, best known for his investigations of early jazz forms. Guneyman (who is “familiar with jazz piano conventions”) and Hyman played a duo concert at Carnegie Hall in 2004, which led to this studio recording.

Playful Virtuosity, with its quaint, ornate, tuxedo-and-formal-gown stylizations of relics like “Fascinatin’ Rhythm,” “Liza” and “Back Home Again in Indiana” is a hardcore hipster’s nightmare.

But Guneyman and Hyman have virtuosity going for them, as well as a mutual admiration society and taste. They both play lots of notes, but they always make room for one another. It is hard to imagine another piano couple offering the vast shimmering coordinated pointillism of “Embraceable You,” or the waterfalls of romanticism that is “The Man I Love.” Theirs may be the most mannered, arch, dignified “Django” ever played. As they take turns leading and creating impeccable backgrounds and counterlines, they place John Lewis’ song in an elegant, artificial, timeless world of their own.

Originally published in July/August 2007
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