Donald Lambert: Anitra's Dance
Donald Lambert (piano)
Recorded 1959-1961 (Storyville)
Donald Lambert (piano).
Composed by Edvard Grieg. Arranged by Donald Lambert.
Recorded: Warren, New Jersey, 1960
Rating: 100/100 (learn more)
I believe this performance is technically impossible. I have heard (and now seen: YouTube! ) it many times but still refuse to accept it!
Lambert's left hand on up-tempo showpieces like "Anitra's Dance" makes me think of an old-time movie projector, flickering from still image to still image but nevertheless creating the impression of smooth motion.
Edvard Grieg's "Anitra's Dance" is a light classical staple always included in various "Best-loved Classics" anthologies found hidden away in most old piano benches. "Ragging the classics" was standard procedure for this era of pianists; Lambert's "Anitra's Dance" is surely the summit of this practice. There is a studio recording from the 1940s which is also amazing (and basically the same arrangement), but I chose this version since it seems to have more limitless fire.
Unfortunately, having a real gig like the one at the Newport Jazz Festival documented on YouTube was a rare triumph in the Lambert saga. At this point, Lambert was mostly an alcoholic barroom pianist forgotten in New Jersey with just a couple years to live. Instead of a conventional epitaph, Lambert's grave in Princeton has the musical phrase "In some secluded rendezvous" (from "Cocktails for Two") carved in granite.
Reviewer: Ethan Iverson