For several months now, the Crimson Network has featured short programs of jazz piano by two undergraduates, Art Hyman and Rupe Wright. Some of you have undoubtedly heard them at one time or another, and I hope you liked their work as much as I do. For although they're both far from being consummate jazz pianists, Art and Rupe are way ahead of the average college swing musician when it comes to improvisation--which after all is one of the prime requisites of good jazz. Both of these boys, I'm glad to say, will go out of their way to avoid the imitative, elaborately tasteless style which has bogged down too many of our more promising keyboard artists. This goes for Rupe especially. He can't read a note of music, and he's such a lazy bum that I doubt if he'll ever bother to learn. However, what counts is the fact that he's endowed with an innate sense of chord structure that permits him to give full play to his musical ideas. He's got a style that's delicate without being saccharine, and imaginative without being ponderously elaborate. I've heard him on occasions when his work has been sufficiently inspired to rate with big-time jazz musicians, and although these occasions are few and far between, they constitute ample indication that Rupe could be a budding Stacy if he got the lead out of his pants and went at it seriously. This also goes for Art Hyman, who, although he doesn't measure up to Rupe on ideas, has somewhat more technique, and uses it to full advantage, without going to the extreme of playing in a disorganized style which is best illustrated by the unfortunately popular work of Art Tatum (By the way--Tatum isn't particularly fond of his commercialism. You should hear him when he's just playing for his own kicks).
What's important about these boys, it seems to me, is the fact that they're giving Harvardmen a pretty good education in piano jazz. Their work is not a puerile brand of music which can be quickly dismissed, and at the same time it's sufficiently simple to arouse the interest of the tyro. Finally, it's been a very good build-up for what's going to happen tonight on the Network. Earl Hines will be down there from 7:30 to 8:00 (prior to doing a one-nighter at Paul Revere Hall). The "Father," who will be interviewed by jazz critic George Frazier, plans to speak on some fundamentals of jazz piano, demonstrating them in his own style. Art Hyman and Rupe Wright will be eating it up, and this wouldn't be a bad idea for any of you who play piano or just listen to it.
NEWS AND NEW RELEASES. The Freshman Jubilee Committee showed excellent taste in choosing Bobby Byrne's orchestra for the brawl on May 23. This band is one of those rare groups which can play swing and sweet equally well. Besides, Bobby himself is one of the best white jazz trombonists in the game, and his technique on that instrument ranks with that of Jack Teagarden and Tommy Dorsey. Vocalist Dorothy Claire you've heard to good advantage with Glenn Miller. You'll see her to better advantage at the Jubilee.