Pianists who want a lesson in the basics would do well to fall around to Blues Alley this week and check out one of the masters, Earl "Fatha" Hines. He laid some of the cornerstones back in the '20s and is still going strong.
On his own "Monday Date" last night his right hand maintained a tremolo while his left hand explored the melody. Then he switched to the famous and seminal "trumpet style" with right, his left pumping a modified stride.
Marva Josie, Hines' vocalist for nearly a decade, utilized her extraordinary range on "Let the Good Times Roll." Her voice can croon, shout, whisper, growl, warble, quaver and a few other things, all in the space of a few breaths. Clarence Becton's sock cymbal clasp action and stick-on-stick rim shots were the prefect support for her catalogue of pain on "C. C. Rider."
A Johnny Hodges medley by Eric Schnieder captured the essence of the late altoist but was infused with the player's own emotional force and sense of swing.
Bassist Jim Cox's bowed solo feature, "Can't Help Loving That Man," and his supportive role in the rhythm section attests to the "Fatha's" continuing role as talent discoverer.
The Earl Hines Quartet with Marva Josie remains at Blues Alley through Sunday.