A Virtual “Album” From Paolo & Stephanie

Stephanie & Paolo

LOEWE-LERNER: Wouldn’t it Be Loverly/I Could Have Danced All Night. TROUP: Route 66. SCHWARTZ-DIETZ: Dancing in the Dark/That’s Entertainment. WEILL-BRECHT: Mack the Knife. JOHNSON: Jingles.* Charleston. FELDMAN-FITZGERALD: A-Tisket, A-Tasket. BLAKE-SISSLE: I’m Just Wild About Harry. GRIEG: Anitra’s Dance.* VAN HEUSEN-BURKE: Moonlight Becomes You. ELLINGTON-MILLS: It Don’t Mean a Thing (If It Ain’t Got That Swing). GARNER: Misty.+ TRICK-ALDERIGHI: Stephanie & Paolo’s Boogie. JOLSON-DeSYLVA-MEYER: California, Here I Come.* Medley: MILLER-PARISH: Moonlight Serenade/GORDON-WARREN: It Happened in Sun Valley. KERN-FIELDS: Pick Yourself Up. LaROCCA-SHIELDS-RAGAS: Tiger Rag / Stephanie Trick, Paolo Alderighi, pno. *Stephanie solo. +Paolo solo. All tracks available for free streaming on YouTube by clicking song titles above.

While many artists are sitting at home, fussing and worrying about being able to perform during the by-now-overrated Covid-19 pandemic, it turns out that the jazz piano duo of Stephanie Trick and her husband, Paolo Alderighi, have been cranking out home videos of the two of them happily playing a boatload of jazz standards at the piano. And of course, they’re not just playing solo on most of them, but sharing the piano bench and the keyboard as only they can—sticking their hands and arms in the middle of each others’ playing to embellish ideas, fill in central parts or just duo-improvise. One may be tempted to dismiss this as a circus act, but it’s anything but. Over the years they’ve been playing together, they can almost read each others’ minds musically, fill in parts for each other or, in soloing, picking up where the other leaves off.

I made a compilation of the videos that I enjoyed the most and present them here for your enjoyment as well. You might even want to do what I did, which is to either convert the videos to high-quality MP3s online and download them or record them as streaming audio, and burn a CD, but I strongly recommend that you watch the videos first just because they’re so much fun. In addition to their “home movies,” I’ve also included an August 2016 performance of James P. Johnson’s Charleston just because it’s such a clever arrangement.

A small note of jazz history for those who don’t know: Stephanie’s performance of Grieg’s Anitra’s Dance is based on the 1941 recording by Donald Lambert, one of the best but least-known of the great stride pianists. Everyone knows Fats Waller, jazz fans also know James P. Johnson and Willie “The Lion” Smith, but Lambert sadly faded into obscurity because he had an inferiority complex and thus had no idea how much he was worth. A star in the 1920s (though no records from that era), he was reportedly so intimidated by the arrival of Art Tatum on the scene in the early 1930s that he retreated from the big time and spent most of the rest of his career playing a little bar called “Wallace’s High Tavern” in Orange, New Jersey. Fortunately, someone (probably Waller…Smith was too egotistical to recommend anyone but himself) put a little birdie in RCA Victor’s ear, and Lambert recorded a few sides for their Bluebird label, of which Anitra’s Dance is one, so neither here nor on Johnson’s Jingles is Stephanie playing her own improvisation, but paying homage to two giants of the stride genre…but she’s still always fun to watch. (Footnote: aside from his few Bluebird recordings, there are several hours’ worth of private tapes made of Lambert’s playing at Wallace’s in the 1950s and early 1960s, some of which were released on LP decades ago. There’s also a video (in very poor video and audio quality) playing Anitra’s Dance at the 1960 Newport Jazz Festival, the only time he was ever captured on film. He died in 1962.)

—© 2021 Lynn René Bayley

Follow me on Twitter (@artmusiclounge) or Facebook (as Monique Musique)

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Read my book, From Baroque to Bop and Beyond: An extended and detailed guide to the intersection of classical music and jazz

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