The following post was written by one of the Music Library’s student workers, Daniel Weaver, a recent graduate of the Department of Library & Information Studies and a current MA student in the Music Department.
Portrait of Earl Hines, New York, N.Y., ca. Mar. 1947, by William P Gottlieb.
Photograph from the William P. Gottlieb Collection at the Library of Congress.
An exciting new addition to the Music Library is the Mosaic Records issue, Classic Earl Hines Sessions 1928-1945. (CD19362/68) This seven-disc set chronicles some of the most important recordings made by Hines as a leader of his own big band, as a soloist, and as a featured performer with ensembles such as the Sidney Bechet Trio. Earl Hines was one of the single most important innovators in the history of jazz piano playing. Freeing the development of piano jazz from the strict distinctions of blues, ragtime, and stride, Hines cultivated a unique style that blended elements of all three plus a linear approach to melody, “trumpet style” octaves, and a rhythmically loose left hand. He was a major influence on a range of artists including Art Tatum, Teddy Wilson, and Nat King Cole. Taken from the masters, as well as some commercially-released 78s of Hines’s original recordings with OKeh, Victor, Brunswick, Vocalion, Bluebird, and Signature, the set picks up immediately after the conclusion of Hines’s tenure in Louis Armstrong’s Hot Five, and extends through the late 1940s when Hines had to disband his orchestra for economic reasons.
Among the many highlights on the set are Hines’s solo tracks including the initial post-Armstrong “Blues in Thirds,” “A Monday Date,” and his 1940 recording of “Body and Soul,” described by jazzweekly.com as “overwhelmingly lovely.” One of the strengths of the Mosaic set is the experience of following the development of the Hines big band’s many incarnations, and consequently the overall development of jazz from the 1920s to the 1940s. Although the classic line-up featuring Dizzy Gillespie and Charlie Parker could not be preserved on recording due to the American Federation of Musicians strike, other important musicians who performed with Hines are represented in the set, including Billy Eckstine, Oscar Pettiford, and Ray Nance.
If you like what you hear on the Mosaic set, and want to explore more of Hines’s work, ask at the circulation desk for CD6800, Louis Armstrong Volume IV: Louis Armstrong and Earl Hines, featuring arguably Hines’s most famous performance, “West End Blues.” For a late-career recording ask about Earl Hines Plays Duke Ellington, (CDX217/18).