Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Earl Hines: “Memories of You” (1965)

Here is Earl Hines (1903-1983) performing “Memories of You” in Berlin in 1965.

Known as Earl "Fatha" Hines, he played piano in Chicago clubs in the 1920s, first as a soloist and later as a bandleader. He made several recordings with Louis Armstrong in the '20s and '30s, and then joined Armstrong again in the late 1940s to tour with the All Stars. He toured the world and made records into the 1970s

In 1968 during his 6-week Soviet Union tour, the 10,000-seater Kiev Sports Palace was sold out. As a result, the Kremlin cancelled his Moscow and Leningrad concerts as being "too culturally dangerous".

Known for his great technique and talent for improvisation, Hines' horn-like phrasing and rhythm influenced popular jazz through the swing era and into bebop.

He died in 1968 having played his last performance only a few days earlier. As he had wished, his Steinway had a very much "All Star" Christie's auction for the benefit of gifted low-income music students, still bearing its silver plaque: "PRESENTED BY JAZZ LOVERS FROM ALL OVER THE WORLD. THIS PIANO IS THE ONLY ONE OF ITS KIND IN THE WORLD AND EXPRESSES THE GREAT GENIUS OF A MAN WHO HAS NEVER PLAYED A MELANCHOLY NOTE IN HIS LIFETIME ON A PLANET THAT HAS OFTEN SUCCUMBED TO DESPAIR".

On his tombstone is the inscription: "PIANO MAN".

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