Richard Hyman (born March 8, 1927) is an American jazz pianist and composer. Over a 60-year career, he has worked as a pianist, organist, arranger, music director, electronic musician, and composer. He was named a National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Masters fellow in 2017.
Hyman was born in New York City to Joseph C. Hyman and Lee Roven. He was trained classically by his mother’s brother, the concert pianist Anton Rovinsky, who premiered The Celestial Railroad by Charles Ives in 1928. Hyman said of Rovinsky, “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 and embellish it in different arbitrary ways, which is exactly what we do in jazz. Chopin would have been a terrific jazz pianist! His waltzes are in my improvising to this day.” Hyman’s older brother, Arthur, owned a jazz record collection and introduced him to the music of Bix Beiderbecke and Art Tatum.
Relax Records released Hyman’s solo piano versions of “All the Things You Are” and “You Couldn’t Be Cuter” around 1950. Hyman recorded two honky tonk piano albums under the pseudonym “Knuckles O’Toole and included two original compositions, and recorded more as “Willie the Rock Knox” and “Slugger Ryan”.
As a studio musician in the 1950s Hyman performed with Charlie Parker for Parker’s only film appearance. He worked as music director for Arthur Godfrey.
Hyman has worked as composer, arranger, conductor, and 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. His other film scores include Moonstruck, Scott Joplin, The Lemon Sisters and Alan and Naomi. His music has also been heard in 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.
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 Theatre. 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.
In the 1960s, Hyman recorded several pop albums on Enoch Light’s Command Records. At first, he used the Lowrey organ, on the albums Electrodynamics (US No. 117), Fabulous (US No. 132), 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: The Electric Eclectics of Dick Hyman(Can No. 35), and The Age of Electronicus (US No. 110).
The track “The Minotaur” from the aforementioned 1969 album…The Electric Eclectics… charted in the US top 40 (US R&B Singles No. 27; Hot 100 No. 38) (No. 20 Canada), becoming the first Moog single hit (although, as originally released on 45, it was labeled as the B-side to the shorter “Topless Dancers of Corfu”). Some elements from the track “The Moog and Me” (most notably the whistle that serves as the song’s lead-in) on the same album were sampled by Beck for the track “Sissyneck” on his 1996 album Odelay. (by wikipedia)
Dick Hyman’s busy career as an in-demand studio musician for all kinds of record dates was already picking up steam at the time of this recording made under his own name circa 1955. Although he established firm credentials as a first-rate jazz interpreter, this session is a bit of a disappointment, as the middle-of-the-road arrangements seem aimed more at an easy listening crowd and they haven’t aged very well over time. The bassist and drummer provide a strictly timekeeping role, so Hyman is left alone to offer a bizarre treatment of “The Very Thought of You” on harpsichord, or joined by an unidentified whistler and guitarist (possibly Toots Thielemans?) for “Moritat” (better known as “Mack the Knife”). This is the kind of music one would expect in a retro-lounge music compilation put out by a reissue label like Rhino. Dick Hyman remains a first-rate pianist and organist in the 21st century, but there are many far superior recordings available under his name that should take priority over this long out of print LP. (by Ken Dryden)
But … still a pretty nice album !
Joe Benjamin (bass)
Dick Hyman (piano)
Osie Johnson (drums)
01. Unforgettable (Gordon) 3.02
02. Panama (Tyers) 2.38
03. Jealous (Finch/Little/Malie) 2.21
04. The Very Thought Of You (Noble) 2.23
05. Moritat – A Theme From “The Threepenny Opera” (Weill) 2.17
06. Baubles, Bangles And Beads (Forrest/Wright) 2.10
07. Cecilia (Doyer/Herman) 2.27
08. East Of The Sun (And West Of The Moon) (Bowman) 2.47
09. Star Dust (Carmichael/Parish) 3.10
10. Out Of Nowhere (Heyman/Green) 2.53
11. Besame Mucho (Velazquez/Skylar) 3.00
12. The Old Professor (Hyman) 2.10