Eddie Heywood was a pianist in the Teddy Wilson mould and the tracks on this double CD are a selection of material from the 40s and 50s, with well-known figures such as Barney Bigard, Coleman Hawkins, Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald and others.
The earlier recordings are great examples of small-group swing outfits of this era, with a selection from the Commodore and Signature labels. Hawkins’ quartet provides Crazy Rhythm, with a very young Shelly Manne, whom Heywood used regularly. The Commodore small groups that follow have tight arrangements and fine solos from trumpeter Doc Cheatham and Heywood himself, leading from the front. Their version of Begin The Beguine is of particular interest, a distinctive arrangement and approach by the pianist, with sharp brass interjections – so full of character that it received approbation from the composer himself, Cole Porter.
The Billie Holiday sides see her in fine fettle, vibrant and fresh with lovely inflection, whilst Cheatham excels in squeezing out notes on I’ll Get By. The accompaniment by Heywood and the rhythm section is the perfect foil for the singer. There follows several tracks from Signature which include the versatile Ray Nance on violin and trumpet plus the smooth sound of Don Byas’s tenor, whilst Heywood’s piano skills are shown on Heywood’s Blues, Plymouth Rock, Trees and the lively Heywood’s Boogie.
By the late 40s Heywood started to drift towards a more mainstream popular approach, as seen on Guilty, which has Ella Fitzgerald covering the Margaret Whiting hit. A slight jazz feeling was retained, but it seemed to be catering for the “light entertainment” market more. Orchestral arrangements, at times heavy-handed, started to appear and his collaboration with Hugo Winterhalter resulted in the over-dramatic Canadian Sunset, which hit the US charts, making it to number 2 behind Presley’s Don’t Be Cruel. Some of this later work is alarmingly reminiscent of the intermission music at the cinema, whilst waiting for the main feature.
However, this is a good introduction into the music of Eddie Heywood, even for those not keen on the later material, as the early small swing group sides are very good.
CD1: Midnight Jamboree; Let’s Do It; Crazy Rhythm; Step Steps Up; Indiana; I Can’t Believe That You’re In Love With Me; Begin The Beguine; I Cover The Waterfront; Just You, Just Me; I’ll Get By; I’ll Be Seeing You; On The Sunny Side Of The Street; How High The Moon; Them There Eyes; Flamingo; Night And Day; Blue Lou; Please Don’t Talk About Me When I’m Gone; Coquette; I Didn’t Know About You; Who’s Sorry Now? (71.14)
CD2: Heywood’s Blues; Laura; Guilty; Heywood’s Boogie; Plymouth Rock; Chillicothe, Ohio; Trees; The Piccalino; The Carioca; All The Things You Are; The Birth Of The Blues; Cheek To Cheek; Stompin’ At The Savoy; Stormy Weather; The Moon Was Yellow; The Continental; Land Of Dreams; Secret Love; Young At Heart; Soft Summer Breeze; Canadian Sunset; Summertime; Just One Of Those Things; Whispering Wind; With The Wind And The Rain In Your Hair (72.27)
Heywood (p) with various musicians including Coleman Hawkins (ts); Shelly Manne (d); Oscar Pettiford (b); Barney Bigard (cl); Doc Cheatham (t); Vic Dickenson (tb); Sid Catlett (d); Ray Nance (t, vn); Don Byas (ts); Johnny Hodges (as); Britt Woodman (tb); The Quintones, Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald (v); Hugo Winterhalter & Orchestra. 1940-1959.