Play Nice Tunes
The great Ruby Braff recorded cornet / piano duets with Ellis Larkins, Ralph Sutton, Roger Kellaway and Dick Hyman amongst others. For me, the recordings with Hyman are the finest, as Hyman is an enormously alert partner, constantly sparring with Braff and inspiring him to play at a consistently high level. This 1994 CD has been criticized for lacking the variety of tempos and treatments of some of their other collaborations, and there is some truth in this. Virtually all the tracks are taken at medium tempo, and Hyman has no opportunity to play the full blooded stride that he excels in. Nevertheless, there is much to savor on this CD. The repertoire mixes Jazz standards and obscurities from the American songbook to great effect. Braff, despite having been seriously ill shortly before the session, plays at his lyrical best and is full of invention. Hyman is magnificent throughout, and on tracks such as Cole Porter's "My Heart Belongs to Daddy" (with it's mock-fugal solo) "Joseph Joseph" and "You're Lucky To Me", interacts superbly with Braff.