Judy Carmichael and Randy Sandke

DAVID WAKEFIELD Noriwch Playhouse


> Noriwch Playhouse

To hear the art of stride piano playing practised in this day and age is rare enough. But to see and hear a very fine woman player brings to a mind a well-known phrase involving the words 'hen' and 'teeth'.

Judy Carmichael, a New Yorker, came to Norwich with a considerable reputation. She left behind an audience (sadly, not a full one) gasping at her technique in a style perhaps more demanding than any other when it comes to piano playing.

Stride is a two-fisted technique, in which the left hand pounds out a percussive rhythm, thus largely eliminating the need for a traditional bass/drums accompaniment. Its most famous practictioner was Fats Waller, and it was to the jolly keyboard giant that Ms Carmichael turned for a big chunk of her material, along with George Gershwin (much of whose material demands this style of playing if done on solo piano).

Warm and communicative between numbers, she was joined by fellow American the trumpeter Randy Sandke, for part of her programme, and the two showed an immediate empathy on numbers like Waller's Keepin' Out Of Mischief Now and Gersh-win's Lady Be Good.