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June 1998

Dick Wellstood
Live at the Sticky Wicket
Arbors Records

Jazz lost a master of stride piano when Wellstood died July 24, 1987. Throughout this two-CD set, which commemorates the tenth anniversary of that unexpected event, he demonstrates not only vast knowledge of traditional vehicles such as James P. Johnson's "Snowy Morning Blues" and "Carolina Shout" and Scott Joplin's "The Entertainer" and "Maple Leaf Rag" but also cogent adaptability of modern tunes such as "Lullaby of Birdland," "Groovin' High"-and even "Giant Steps." Surprise and delight fill these performances. Wellstood never strains to make the stride connection; instead, he makes his approach sound both inevitable and personal.

This set was recorded November 9, 1986. You can hear Wellstood's between-tunes banter with the audience and his spoken introductions, both laced with humor akin to his piano rhythms and figurations. Marty Grosz's humorous and sometimes bittersweet liner notes give us an endearing portrait of the man, his era and his beloved piano style.

Originally published in June 1998
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