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One Musician's True Love : * He says studio work 'puts carrots on the table,' but jazz 'takes away the stress.'

September 10, 1993|ZAN STEWART | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES, Zan Stewart writes regularly about jazz for The Times.

Trombonist Dick (Slyde) Hyde, who has had a three-decade-plus career as a studio and jazz musi cian, was born on the Fourth of July, and there are several instances associated with his birthday that he'll never forget.

Take the time in the mid-'60s when Hyde, running late, was racing from Los Angeles to get to a job in San Diego and was pulled over by a highway patrolman.

"I was going about 105 m.p.h.," Hyde, now 57, recalled with a laugh. "And this CHP, a rookie who was just out of training, also was born on the Fourth of July, and he let me off. Yes, I got to the job on time."

Then there was the accident at a birthday/holiday celebration two years ago, the aftermath of which almost cost Hyde his career.

At the party, Hyde fell and apparently broke a rib. But when he was taken to the Motion Picture Hospital in Calabasas, an X-ray revealed that he had a malignant tumor the size of a lemon on his left lung.

"They had to remove the lower lobe of my lung," Hyde said. "Somehow they got all the cancer. I never had to do chemotherapy or anything. But the doctor told me I'd never play again."

Hyde refused to accept that prognosis.

"You don't say that to a guy who doesn't know how to do anything else," said Hyde, with typical exuberance. "So after three days in intensive care, I played my horn for two minutes. It felt tough; it was hard for me to breathe, but it felt good. Then I was at home recuperating for a month, and I kept playing, and by the end of the month, I had a gig--a studio call."

The trombonist, who lives in Westlake Village with his wife, Yolee, and their son, Josh, has completely recovered and has returned to music full time.

As a studio musician, Hyde has performed for countless film and TV scores, from Francis Ford Coppola's "Godfather III" to such series as "Murder, She Wrote" and "Star Trek." He's also appeared on albums by the Beatles, Rolling Stones, Frank Sinatra and Barbra Streisand.

What Hyde really loves is playing jazz with a quartet or quintet. That's just what he'll do Saturday at Chadney's in Burbank, where he works about once a month. The trombonist, once a Stan Kenton brass man, was given his nickname by jazz trumpeter Don Rader. He said studio work "puts carrots on the table," while jazz offers fun and relaxation.

"Jazz gives me a tremendous sense of well-being. It takes away the stress," Hyde said. "I also like being with other guys, the comradeship, being part of something. The music sometimes takes us into unknown areas, and it's fun when we all come out together."

Another aspect of jazz that satisfies Hyde is its potential for self-expression and for emotional release. "I play how I feel," he said. "Sometimes I'm crying inside, and I can't start bawling on stage, so you play out the frustration," he said. "It's the greatest therapy in the world. It makes you stronger.

"So does breathing. Every breath I take makes me stronger."

Dennis Duke, who books the acts at Chadney's, called Hyde one of the most unusual trombonists he's heard. "He's really melodic, very lyrical," Duke said. "He's got his own sound. And he's quite a character, so outgoing, and that adds to his musicianship, as far as putting the audience at ease. People feel close to him."

Born in Lansing, Mich., Hyde was raised in Bluffton, Ind., and started trombone in the fourth grade. After a stint in the Navy, he moved to Southern California, where he eventually joined Kenton's band. He credits the bandleader with preparing him to be a professional musician.

"In the studios, you have to be ready for anything. I've had to read music that looked like a truck had run over it--notes were crossed out; there were scribbles, erasures," he said. "But since my experience with Stan, I haven't come across anything I couldn't play."

What: Dick (Slyde) Hyde plays Chadney's, 3000 W. Olive St., Burbank.

Hours: 9 p.m. to 1 a.m. Saturday.

Price: No cover, no minimum.

Call: (818) 843-5333.

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