During the past 5 years of OFAM's homage to the Great American Songbook, Dick Hyman has made a special point of exploring the "classical" side of the Songbook's greatest practiioners. These composers rarely wrote specifically for the concert hall (George Gershwin being a marked exception), but, as Dick has often noted, many of their songs are very much like their classical counterparts.
This characteristic is particularly strong in Richard Rodgers, especially in the latter part of his career in his collaboration with Hammerstein, who shared his deep love of classical music. Well-trained in music from an early age in the classical literature (as was more often the case during the first half of the last century than it is today), Rodgers attended Columbia and Juilliard (then the Institute of Musical Art) even as he was establishing himself on Broadway. He wrote, it has been oft noted, more waltzes than Strauss, and he introduced straight out classical ballet (choreographed by the likes of Balanchine (whose work first appeared in Rodgers & Harts' 1936 On Your Toes, which featured his Slaughter On Tenth Avenue and Babes In Arms, 1939) and Agnes de Mille (Oklahoma).
For this evening's performance, Dick has created an exploration of the "classical" Rodgers as a special trio performance featuring him, Ken on clarinet, and the wonderful Maria Jette. Songs include "Out Of My Dreams", "The Gentleman Is A Dope", "The Lady is A Tramp", "Mr. Snow", "Blue Moon" and "I Cain't Say No".