Music

Earl Hines: At the Party

John Kreicbergs

Earl Hines

At the Party

Label: Delmark
US Release Date: 2001-11-13
UK Release Date: 2001-12-03
Amazon
iTunes

Out of the voices and din of what sounds like some late night hipster hot spot comes the low rumble of a piano, like an impromptu orator trying to gather the attention of an unwitting audience. Quickly punctuating the bass drone is a plucky upper octave introduction, joined by the determined and driving swing of brushes on a snare and hi-hat, and both bop and bounce into the melody of "It's Only a Paper Moon". While the audience only dies to a dull roar, disturbed by an occasional hearty laugh or tinkling of glasses, the room does take on a decidedly different rhythm. Like the gentle rolling waves beneath the Golden Gate Bridge, it begins to ebb and flow with the inescapable energy of the sextet onstage.

Recorded in May of 1970 at a small club in San Francisco, Earl Hines's At the Party is an energetic recording featuring the gifted pianist and proving that, while beyond his youth at the age of 67, was far from being past his prime. Born in 1903 and raised as a pianist in a musical family, there was little surprise when he moved to Chicago in 1926 to pursue his career as a jazz musician. There, Hines joined up with a young coronet player by the name of Louis Armstrong and proceeded to collaborate and record with him as a member of his legendary quintet, the Hot Five.

Credited along side Jelly Roll Morton as being a major influence on the evolution of jazz piano style and technique, the Hines sound is uniquely bombastic at times and equally as freewheeling with twisting pre-bop melodic gestures. As a bandleader, he was a major force in the Chicago scene for nearly fifteen years, recognizing the burgeoning young talent of artists like Sarah Vaughn, Dizzy Gillespie, Billy Eckstine, and Charlie Parker.

At the Party is an apt name for this recent reissue, capturing both the essence of Hines's remarkable career and the frenetic energy that is in the air this particular night. After opening the disc with the aforementioned aplomb, the group moves into a flirtatious rendition of "Coquette". Here, the group -- consisting of Hines at piano, vibraphonist Johnny Rae, guitarist Jack Crowley, bassist Larry Richardson, drummer Kahil Mahdee and percussionist Escovedo -- switches gears immediately, with Rae and Crowley offering a wonderful sense of color to the whole affair.

Following up with a gorgeous introduction into "Poor Butterfly", Hines exhibits a thoughtful sense of melody balanced by gently arching technical runs that would make any classically trained pianist sit up and pay attention. Picking up the tempo again with "Indiana" and then dropping the pace back into a gentle plod with "Along the Santa Fe Trail" and the languid drifting of "Lazy River", Hines pays homage to his old and new stomping grounds with a medley of "Chicago" and "I Left My Heart in San Francisco". Along the length of this geographic trek, Hines and his band joke and jibe all along the way, urged on by the occasional shout of "One more time!" emanating from the effusive piano player. The disc's final cut, "I Want a Little Girl", caps the evening off with flair and a dash of genuine panache.

In all honesty, Earl Hines is probably one of the best piano players that no one has really heard about. As unfortunate as that may be, this release serves as evidence as to why any student of the music, its development, and its innovators need to give him some well-deserved consideration.


Music

Books

Film

Recent
Books

'World War 3 Illustrated #51: The World We Are Fighting For'

World War 3 Illustrated #51 displays an eclectic range of artists united in their call to save democracy from rising fascism.

Music

Tiphanie Doucet's "You and I" Is an Exercise in Pastoral Poignancy (premiere)

French singer-songwriter Tiphanie Doucet gives a glimpse of her upcoming EP, Painted Blue, via the sublimely sentimental ode, "You and I".

Music

PM Picks Playlist 3: WEIRDO, Psychobuildings, Lili Pistorius

PopMatters Picks Playlist features the electropop of WEIRDO, Brooklyn chillwavers Psychobuildings, the clever alt-pop of Lili Pistorius, visceral post-punk from Sapphire Blues, Team Solo's ska-pop confection, and dubby beats from Ink Project.

By the Book

The Story of Life in 10 1/2 Species (excerpt)

If an alien visitor were to collect ten souvenir life forms to represent life on earth, which would they be? This excerpt of Marianne Taylor's The Story of Life in 10 and a Half Species explores in text and photos the tiny but powerful earthling, the virus.

Marianne Taylor
Film

Exploitation Shenanigans 'Test Tube Babies' and 'Guilty Parents' Contend with the Aftermath

As with so many of these movies about daughters who go astray, Test Tube Babies blames the uptight mothers who never told them about S-E-X. Meanwhile, Guilty Parents exploits poor impulse control and chorus girls showing their underwear.

Music

Deftones Pull a Late-Career Rabbit Out of a Hat with 'Ohms'

Twenty years removed from Deftones' debut album, the iconic alt-metal outfit gel more than ever and discover their poise on Ohms.

Music

Arcade Fire's Will Butler Personalizes History on 'Generations'

Arcade Fire's Will Butler creates bouncy, infectious rhythms and covers them with socially responsible, cerebral lyrics about American life past and present on Generations.

Music

Thelonious Monk's Recently Unearthed 'Palo Alto' Is a Stellar Posthumous Live Set

With a backstory as exhilarating as the music itself, a Thelonious Monk concert recorded at a California high school in 1968 is a rare treat for jazz fans.

Music

Jonnine's 'Blue Hills' Is an Intimate Collection of Half-Awake Pop Songs

What sets experimental pop's Jonnine apart on Blue Hills is her attention to detail, her poetic lyricism, and the indelibly personal touch her sound bears.

Music

Renegade Connection's Gary Asquith Indulges in Creative Tension

From Renegade Soundwave to Renegade Connection, electronic legend Gary Asquith talks about how he continues to produce infectiously innovative music.

Film

What 'O Brother, Where Art Thou?' Gets Right (and Wrong) About America

Telling the tale of the cyclops through the lens of high and low culture, in O'Brother, Where Art Thou? the Coens hammer home a fatalistic criticism about the ways that commerce, violence, and cosmetic Christianity prevail in American society .

Music

A Certain Ratio Return with a Message of Hope on 'ACR Loco'

Inspired by 2019's career-spanning box set, legendary Manchester post-punkers A Certain Ratio return with their first new album in 12 years, ACR Loco.

Books

Oscar Hijuelos' 'Mambo Kings Play the Songs of Love' Dances On

Oscar Hijuelos' dizzyingly ambitious foot-tapping family epic, Mambo Kings Play the Songs of Love, opened the door for Latinx writers to tell their stories in all their richness.

Music

PM Picks Playlist 2: Bamboo Smoke, LIA ICES, SOUNDQ

PopMatters Picks Playlist features the electropop of Bamboo Smoke, LIA ICES' stunning dream folk, Polish producer SOUNDQ, the indie pop of Pylon Heights, a timely message from Exit Kid, and Natalie McCool's latest alt-pop banger.

Film

'Lost Girls and Love Hotels' and Finding Comfort in Sadness

William Olsson's Lost Girls and Love Hotels finds optimism in its message that life tears us apart and puts us back together again differently.

Music

Bright Eyes' 'Down in the Weeds' Is a Return to Form and a Statement of Hope

Bright Eyes may not technically be emo, but they are transcendently expressive, beatifically melancholic. Down in the Weeds is just the statement of grounding that we need as a respite from the churning chaos around us.

Film

Audrey Hepburn + Rome = Grace, Class, and Beauty

William Wyler's Roman Holiday crosses the postcard genre with a hardy trope: Old World royalty seeks escape from stuffy, ritual-bound, lives for a fling with the modern world, especially with Americans.

Music

Colombia's Simón Mejía Plugs Into the Natural World on 'Mirla'

Bomba Estéreo founder Simón Mejía electrifies nature for a different kind of jungle music on his debut solo album, Mirla.


Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews



Features
Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.