Earl Hines and "Rosetta"

Taylor, Jeffrey

One of the proudest moments of Earl "Fatha" Hines's career took place in 1976, when he was invited to perform at a White House dinner in honor of the President of France. "Rosetta" had been composed by Hines and his arranger Henri Woode over forty years earlier. That the pianist chose this tune for such an occasion, and at this late stage of his career, says much about its prominence in his life. Hines recorded four solo versions of "Rosetta." The two available performances, placed side by side, capture Hines's relentless virtuosity and innovative musical mind, and provide a fascinating example of how a jazz musician can revisit the same melody and chord structure from two perspectives. But the recordings also raise larger issues of context, for they are closely linked both to the tune's creation and subsequent performance history and to Hines's working life as one of the most gifted band pianists of his generation.



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Columbia University
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March 27, 2015