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(PDF) (DOC) (JPG)March 8, 2004

(Mahwah) – Who better to engage for an evening of the American Songbook than the versatile and prolific Dick Hyman and his collaborators? Along with Jay Leonhart on bass and Joe Ascione on drums, pianist Hyman will perform Cole Porter, Irving Berlin, Duke Ellington, Harold Arlen and others Friday, March 26 at 8 p.m. in the Sharp Theater at Ramapo College of New Jersey.

Hyman, who has performed as pianist, arranger, composer and conductor in Woody Allen’s films, has created his own style of piano improvisation and tapped into ragtime and early jazz. He explored and recorded the music of Scott Joplin, Jelly Roll Morton, Eubie Blake and Fats Waller, as well as composers of the American Songbook.

Hyman’s 50-year career has yielded over 100 albums recorded under his own name as well as albums he recorded with other artists. His orchestral compositions include Piano Concerto, Ragtime Fantasy and The Longest Blues in the World. From Chama to Cumbres by Steam is a work for orchestra, jazz and pre-recorded railroad sounds.

Hyman’s chamber music, Quintet for Piano and Strings was performed by Ruth Laredo and the Shaghai Quartet. He has collaborated with Derek Smith and Marian McPartland. From 1985, Hyman was artistic director of the 92nd Street Y’s Jazz in July concert series.

In television, Hyman was music director for a number of programs including Benny Goodman’s In Perfomance at the White House. He received an Emmy for original score for daytime drama for Sunshine’s on the Way and for a special PBS program on Eubie Blake. On radio, Hyman has appeared on Fresh Air with Terry Gross.

Hyman composed and performed Piano Man for the Cleveland/San Jose Ballet Company as well as Twyla Tharp’s The Bum’s Rush for the American Ballet Theater. For Miles Davis, Hyman arranged and performed the Dance Theater of Dallas’ Porgy and Bess.

Songwriter/bassist Jay Leonnhardt will accompany Hyman with his bass violin virtuosity and his command of jazz. Leonhart was influenced by his childhood idol, Ray Brown. His teenage interest in combining poems with music resulted in seven albums and three hundred songs. In the past forty years, Leonhart has played with the legends of jazz from Tony Bennett and Frank Sinatra to Sting, James Taylor, Jim Hall, Marian McPartland, Brandon Marsalis, Judy Garland, Peggy Lee, Carly Simon and Bette Midler. The National Association of Recording Arts and Sciences named him Most Valuable Bassist three times. Leonhart is now engaged in a one-man show, The Bass Lesson, around the U.S.

Drummer Joe Ascione, who works with Frank Vignola and their production company, Venture Music, will join Hyman and Leonhart on drums. Ascione’s releases include Django Lives as well as Without a Doubt, featuring Frank Wess, Mark Eagan and Vignola. His latest release is Post No Bills. Ascione has toured, performed and recorded with numerous celebrities such as Jay McShann, Cab Calloway, Jimmy McGriff, Della Reese, Flip Philips, Milt Hinton, Herb Ellis, Ralph Sutton, Jon Faddis and others. Ascione was influenced by Budd Rich to whom he dedicated his album.

Tickets for The American Songbook are $21 for adults, $18 for seniors and $12 for youth. The Sharp Theater is located in the Angelica and Russ Berrie Center for Performing and Visual Arts on the Ramapo College campus. For more information call 201.684.7844.

This program is made possible in part by funds from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts/Department of State, a Partner Agency of the National Endowment for the Arts.

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Ramapo College of New Jersey is the state’s premier public liberal arts college and is committed to academic excellence through interdisciplinary and experiential learning, and international and intercultural understanding. The College is ranked #1 among New Jersey public institutions by College Choice, has been named one of the 50 Most Beautiful College Campuses in America by CondeNast Traveler, and is recognized as a top college by U.S. News & World Report, Kiplinger’s, Princeton Review and Money magazine, among others. Ramapo College is also distinguished as a Career Development College of Distinction by CollegesofDistinction.com, boasts the best campus housing in New Jersey on Niche.com, and is designated a “Military Friendly College” in Victoria Media’s Guide to Military Friendly Schools.

Established in 1969, Ramapo College offers bachelor’s degrees in the arts, business, data science, humanities, social sciences and the sciences, as well as in professional studies, which include business, education, nursing and social work. In addition, the College offers courses leading to teacher certification at the elementary and secondary levels, and offers graduate programs leading to master’s degrees in Accounting, Business Administration, Creative Music Technology, Data Science, Educational Technology, Educational Leadership, Nursing, Social Work and Special Education, as well as a post-master’s Doctor of Nursing Practice.

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