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Essential Hines Gem!
on April 15, 2004
Earl Hines fans owe LaserLight Digital a debt of gratitude for rescuing this long out of print title from obscurity, and for offering this superbly digitally remastered disc at a bargain price.
Originally released as "Earl Hines at Saralee's," this recording has an interesting history. The year1974 was a typically busy one for Hines with coast-to-coast engagements in major venues from Los Angeles to New York, as well as tours to Latin America, Europe, and Japan. It was also the year he played at the funeral service for his close friend Duke Ellington in the Cathedral of St. John the Divine. Early in the year Hines had agreed to record a solo session for the small, financially struggling Fairmont label in Los Angeles. Since the label could not afford studio space, the January 29th recording session was arranged by mutual friends at the Santa Monica home of concert pianist Saralee Halprin, who also graciously offered the use of two pianos: one a three-year-old Steinway, the other a 60-year-old Mason Hamlin. Earl chose the older, more sluggish one for it's warmer tone.
Unlike typical club date audiences, the small appreciative gathering at Saralee's remains almost reverentially quiet as Hines stretches out on 5 standards plus one original: his autobiographically tinged vocal on the ballad "So Can I." At age 69, he plays with all the excitement and innovation for which he was known over many decades. While the selections range from "Alice Blue Gown" written in 1919, to "Wrap Your Troubles in Dreams" (1931) and "Don't Take Your Love From Me" (1941), the music is timeless.