Dick Hyman: Wikis


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Dick Hyman

Dick Hyman (Eugene, Oregon, 2005).
Background information
Birth name Richard Hyman
Born March 8, 1927 (1927-03-08) (age 83)
Origin New York, New York, U.S.
Genres Swing
Stride piano
Spy music
Lounge music
Occupations Pianist
Instruments Piano

Dick Hyman (born March 8, 1927, New York City) is an American jazz pianist/keyboardist and composer best known for his versatility with jazz piano styles. Over a 50 year career he has functioned as pianist, organist, arranger, music director, and, increasingly, as composer. His versatility in all of these areas has resulted in well over 100 albums recorded under his own name and many more in support of other artists.


Early life

Dick Hyman was trained classically by his mother's brother, the concert pianist Anton Rovinsky, a fixture of the pre-war art scene in New York and noted for having premiered some of Charles Ives's works such as the Celestial Railroad in 1928. "He was my most important teacher. I learned touch from him and a certain amount of repertoire, especially Beethoven. On my own I pursued Chopin. I loved his ability to take a melody an embellish it in different arbitrary ways, which is exactly what we do in jazz... His waltzes are in my improvising to this day", Hyman told an interviewer once. He was introduced to the music of Bix Beiderbecke, Louis Armstrong, Teddy Wilson, and others by his older brother, Arthur, and by high school he was playing in dance bands throughout Westchester County.

Hyman completed his freshman year at Columbia University and in June 1945 he enlisted in the Army, transferred to the Navy, and began playing in the band department. When he returned to Columbia he won an on-air piano competition, earning him 12 free lessons with Teddy Wilson, the great swing-era pianist who a decade earlier had broken the race barrier as a member of the Benny Goodman Trio. A few years later Hyman himself became Goodman's pianist.[1][2]



While developing a facility for improvisation in his own piano style, Hyman has also investigated ragtime and the earliest periods of jazz and has researched and recorded the piano music of Scott Joplin, Jelly Roll Morton, James P. Johnson, Zez Confrey, Eubie Blake and Fats Waller which he often features in his frequent recitals. Hyman recorded two highly regarded ragtime albums under the pseudonym "Knuckles O'Toole", and included two original compositions.[citation needed]

In the 1960s he was regularly seen on NBC-TV's weekly musical series Sing Along with Mitch. Other solo recordings include the music of Irving Berlin, Harold Arlen, Cole Porter, George Gershwin, and Duke Ellington. He recorded as a member of the 'Dick Hyman Trio', including a 78 RPM called 'Rolling the Boogie'. During the 1970s he was also member of Soprano Summit.[citation needed]

Hyman served as artistic director for the Jazz in July series at New York's 92nd Street Y for twenty years, a post from which he stepped down in 2004. (He was succeeded in that post by his cousin, Bill Charlap, a highly regarded jazz pianist.) He continues his Jazz Piano at the Y series as well as his post as jazz advisor to The Shedd Institute's Oregon Festival of American Music. In 1995 he was inducted into the Jazz Hall of Fame of the Rutgers Institute of Jazz Studies and the New Jersey Jazz Society. Since then he has received honorary doctorates from Wilkes University, Five Towns College, Hamilton College and the University of South Florida at Tampa, Florida.[citation needed]

Hyman has had an extensive career in New York as a studio musician and won seven Most Valuable Player Awards from the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences. He acted as music director for such television programs as Benny Goodman's final appearance (on PBS) and for In Performance at the White House. He received an Emmy Award for his original score for Sunshine's on the Way, a daytime drama, and another for musical direction of a PBS Special on Eubie Blake. He continues to be a frequent guest performer with The Jim Cullum Jazz Band on the long-running public radio series Riverwalk Jazz, and has been heard on Terry Gross' Fresh Air. He has also collaborated with Ruby Braff extensively on recordings at Arbors Records.[citation needed]

Dick Hyman's Century Of Jazz Piano, an encyclopedic series of solo performances, has been released on Arbors Records. Other new recordings include Thinking About Bix and E Pluribus Duo with Ken Peplowski.


Hyman's concert compositions for orchestra include his Piano Concerto, Ragtime Fantasy, The Longest Blues in the World, and From Chama to Cumbres by Steam, a work for orchestra, jazz combo, and prerecorded railroad sounds. A cantata based on the autobiography of Mark Twain was premiered in 2004.[citation needed] In the dance field, Hyman composed and performed the score for the Cleveland/San Jose Ballet Company's Piano Man, and Twyla Tharp's The Bum's Rush for the American Ballet Theater. He was the pianist/conductor/arranger in Tharp's Eight Jelly Rolls, Baker's Dozen, and The Bix Pieces and similarly arranged and performed for Miles Davis: Porgy and Bess, a choreographed production of the Dance Theater of Dallas. In 2007, his Adventures of Tom Sawyer, which had been commissioned by the John G. Shedd Institute for the Arts, and set by Toni Pimble of the Eugene Ballet, premiered in Eugene, Oregon.[citation needed]

Film work

He has served as composer/arranger/conductor/pianist for the Woody Allen films Zelig, The Purple Rose of Cairo, Broadway Danny Rose, Stardust Memories, Hannah and Her Sisters, Radio Days, Bullets Over Broadway, Everyone Says I Love You, Sweet and Lowdown, The Curse of the Jade Scorpion and Melinda and Melinda.

Other scores include: Moonstruck, Scott Joplin: King of Ragtime, The Lemon Sisters and Alan and Naomi. His music has also been heard in The Mask, Billy Bathgate, Two Weeks Notice, and other films. He was music director of The Movie Music of Woody Allen, which premiered at the Hollywood Bowl.[3]


Hyman composed and performed the score for the Cleveland/San Jose Ballet Company's "Piano Man", and Twyla Tharp's "The Bum's Rush" for the American Ballet Theater. He was also the pianist/conductor/arranger in Ms. Tharp's "Eight Jelly Rolls", "Baker's Dozen", and "The Bix Pieces" and similarly arranged and performed for Miles Davis: "Porgy and Bess", a choreographed production of The Dance Theater of Dallas. A recent premier, a dance based on Mark Twain's Tom Sawyer, was presented by the John G. Shedd Institute of Eugene, Oregon, and danced by the Eugene Ballet Company.[4]


In the 1960s, Hyman recorded several innovative pop albums on Enoch Light's Command Records. At first, he used the Lowrey organ, on the albums Electrodynamics, Fabulous, Keyboard Kaleidoscope and The Man From O.R.G.A.N. He later recorded several albums on the Moog synthesizer which mixed original compositions and cover versions, including Moog: Electric Eclectics, and The Age of Electronicus. The former has now been reissued on CD, on Varese Sarabande, but in cannibalized form with some, but not all, tracks from Age of Electronicus.[citation needed]


As leader

As sideman

With Ruby Braff

With Evan Christopher


radio interview with Doug Miles WSLR

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