Monday, November 15, 2010

Earl Hines elucidates

Here is a fascinating video of Earl Hines, one of the most dazzlingly virtuosic pianists to emerge during the 1920s, explaining and demonstrating the evolution of his style.

This clip is remarkable for at least two reasons. The first is that here we have a jazz musician who is a model of eloquence, in direct contrast with the 'cryptic hipster' stereotype.

The other reason I find this particular clip so remarkable is that here we have the artist as explained by the artist, rather than some (hopefully well-intentioned) friend or biographer. Imagine if we had access to videos like this for ALL our musical heroes; Mozart patiently explaining his composition techniques, Charlie Parker recounting his musical breakthroughs, Johnny Dodds speaking directly to us about the clarinet reeds he preferred!

Of course, he may be simplifying his music by accident or design, but until a time machine is invented, this is as close as I'll get to an Earl Hines piano lesson.

Here's how he sounded in 1939:

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