Happy Fathah’s Day

One of Earl “Fatha” Hines’s greatest admirers, fellow pianist Dick Wellstood, wrote in the liner notes for Earl Hines: Quintessential Continued,

Behold Earl Hines, spinner of yarns, big handed virtuoso of the black dance, con man Earl Hinesextraordinaire, purveyor of hot sauce.
Behold Earl Hines, Jive King, boss of the sloppy run, the dragged thumb, the uneven tremolo, Minstral of the Unworthy Emotion, King of Freedom.
Democratic Transcendent, his twitchy, spitting style uses every cheesy trick in the piano-bar catalog to create moving cathedrals, masterpieces of change, great trains of tension and relaxation, multi-dimensional solos that often seem to be about themselves or other solos—’See, here I might have played some boogie-woogie, or put this accent here, or put this accent there, or this run here, that chord there…or maybe a little stride for you beautiful people in the audience…’Earl Hines, Your Musical Host, serving up the hot sauce.


His is Freedom in Discipline, infinite choice in a limited sphere, the tension of Will vs. Material—his is human creativity. Behold Earl Hines, King of Beasts.

Here’s the King of Beasts at the piano workshop of the Berlin Jazz Festival in 1965. He plays Eubie Blake’s “Memories of You” with bassist Niels-Henning Ørsted Pedersen and drummer Alan Dawson. This was during the early stages of what was widely described as Hines’s comeback or rediscovery, and he was feeling his oats.

That’s for all of you fathas out there. And you muthas, too.

Email this to someoneShare on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Reddit


  1. Terence Smith says

    Perfect interpretation, perfect for the occasion.

    I’m sure glad I have the Impro-Jazz DVD called Berlin Jazz Piano Workshop (including this “Memories of You”), which features Earl Hines approvingly appearing with several of his accomplished children: Teddy Wilson, John Lewis, Lennie Tristano, Bill Evans, and Jaki Byard. All playing with much family spirit.

    During the penultimate number, Jaki Byard and Fatha Hines do a duet on Hines'”Rosetta.” If you only had the audio on, and were just hearing them for the first time, it might be difficult to speculate who was the Father, and who was the son.

    • Doug Ramsey says

      This YouTube page has several individual segments of the Berlin concert, plus one video with the entire 40-minute program. But the complete video has a problem. The audio has been eliminated from the Bill Evans performance, maybe to satisfy some copyright lawyer’s complaint, may he roast. That is odd, however, because the emasculated Evans segment, a nice version of “Beautiful Love,” is restored as an individual clip. Go figure.

  2. Светлана says

    I also consider myself lucky to have the above-mentioned complete Impro-Jazz DVD with two privately recorded bonus audio tracks that were featured at the concert but not filmed and I am happy to have the opportunity to occasionally enjoy this pianistic feast.

  3. Ted O'Reilly says

    That’s some damn good writing by Wellstood, capturing Hines perfectly.

    Dick was an amazing man with an eclectic, cranky mind: pianist, composer, cyclist, lawyer, German-speaker, chess player and obviously, writer. He wrote a monthly column for a New Jersey jazzletter some years back, and I wish someone would/could collect them and make them widely available, perhaps on the net…

    He kept a little book, rating all the hotels around the world he stayed in, usually the ones the club owners put him in. He’d note things like “stay only above the second floor, on the front. Garbage collection every morning on the back. Don’t have breakfast there…” A Jazzman’s Trip Advisor.

  4. Don Conner says

    I was lucky enough to catch Earl Hines live at “the “Hangover” on Bush Street in San Francisco. It was 1958, and he was marvelous. Don’t forget, he also influenced the great Bud Powell, as well. Loved the video, thanks for the post, Doug.