Liner Note Author: Alyn Shipton.
Recording information: BBC Radio 3, St. George's (02/25/1992); Brandon Hill (02/25/1992); Bristol, England (02/25/1992).
Photographer: Derek Drescher.
Ralph Sutton was at the top of his game for this 1992 solo concert recorded at St. George Church in Bristol, England, for a BBC Radio 3 broadcast. Encouraged by an instrument that Sutton described as "the best damn piano I ever played," acoustically perfect surroundings, and a quiet and appreciative audience, the veteran stride pianist's 90-plus-minute set is full of musical treasures that he had played for decades, including "Tea for Two," "Ain't Misbehavin'," "Eye Opener," and "St. Louis Blues." Sutton occasionally takes time to share his memories of the composers, sharing anecdotes about Willard Robison (represented by the fine medley of "Old Folks/Cottage for Sale/'Tain't So, Honey, 'Tain't So") and Willie "The Lion" Smith ("Morning Air" and "Echo of Spring"), as well as kidding the audience about the meaning of the title to Fats Waller's "Viper's Drag." Writer/broadcaster Alyn Shipton MCed both the performance and its radio encores, while he also contributed the insightful liner notes to what should be considered an essential two-CD set for any fan of stride piano. ~ Ken Dryden