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Dick Hyman/Derek Smith: At the Movies

Unlike the occasional disagreements between TV film critics Roger Ebert and the late Gene Siskel, there is no clash at all when pianists Dick Hyman and Derek Smith review this select handful of standards from Hollywood movies. As a matter of fact, some of these numbers are the best things that remain from the otherwise forgettable flicks that gave them their first hearing. Of course “Laura” and “Forty-Second Street” (from the 1945 Laura and the 1933 Forty-Second Street) will forever be associated with the best in both moviemaking and movie themes, but the same cannot be said for 1953’s “Invitation,” which clearly transcends its hokey eponymous setting. However, there are also to be savored “All God’s Chillun” (from the Marx Brothers’ 1937 A Day at the Races) and “The Way You Look Tonight” (from Fred and Ginger’s 1936 SwingTime), as well as “You Are Too Beautiful” (from Al Jolson’s 1933 Hallelujah, I’m A Bum) and “All My Life,” a tune Billie immortalized (from tenor Phil Regan’s 1936 Laughing Irish Eyes).

Dick and Derek, a well-matched team, are in tight sprocket synch on all of these, as they are also on “What Is This Thing Called Love?,” a 1930 Broadway musical hit later used in several films, “Lulu’s Back in Town” (from Dick Powell’s 1935 Broadway Gondolier), “The Boy Next Door” (from Judy Garland’s 1944 Meet Me In St. Louis), and a few others, including Hyman’s “Cecilia’s Theme” (from Woody Allen’s 1985 The Purple Rose of Cairo). The most compelling aspect of this recording, though, is not the framing device, but the selfless empathy each pianist brings to the collaborative moment.

Originally Published