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Dick Wellstood: Live at Hanratty’s

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Wellstood’s Live at Hanratty’s was originally released on two LPs, and as much as one hates to agree with William F. Buckley (whose opinion was asked, for some reason) about anything, there can be little doubt that the pianist is heard at his best here. It’s not fair to call Wellstood a stride player and leave it at that. As he shows from the opening “Cha Cha for Charlie,” he was highly effective in other contexts. But certainly one thinks of stride when one thinks of Wellstood. Like any of the masters of the idiom, he could hypnotize you just with his left hand sound. And though he could play the old repertoire flawlessly, his own arrangements showed considerable originality, harmonically. The program here is great, featuring a mix of standards that haven’t been done to death (“All My Eggs in One Basket”) and a couple of early jazz classics that one doesn’t expect on a piano program (“Cornet Chop Suey” and Bechet’s “Quincy Street Stomp”). Fine work all the way.