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Friday, February 01, 2013

CD Review: The Ken Hatfield Sextet - For Langston

Ken Hatfield (guitar, composer, arranger); Hilary Gardner (vocals); Jamie Baum (alto flute);  Hans Glawischnig (bass); Jeff Hirshfield (drums); Steven Kroon (percussion) Langston Hughes (1902-1967 lyrics).
(Review by Ann Alex)
Phew! This review has been done just in time for what would have been Langston Hughes birthday, which is February 1.  So what, you ask?  Well the CD is a celebration of Hughes’ poetry. His writing was part of what is known in the USA as the Harlem Renaissance, sometimes known as ‘Jazz Poetry’, verse evoking blues forms, easy to listen to, yet full of rich observations about love, life and politics.
Hatfield, the composer, has gathered superb musicians for this project, including Hilary Gardner, a skilled soprano using her voice as a jazz singer should, and Jamie Baum on alto flute, making an interesting change from the usual saxes and trumpets of the front line.
Tracks include an instrumental, Overture, with a distinctly urban sound, yet quirky as well; an amusing blues I Don’t Believe in Titles; (I quote)
        Do not call me doctor if I get a Phd
        Just keep on calling me sweetie, ‘cos that is good to me
        I don’t believe in titles when it comes to love’
This track has a good bass solo and a definite 1920’s blues feel.
Then there’s Lonely Nocturne, which is about coming home with no-one to welcome you, which manages to be sad yet playful; In Time of Silver Rain the flute imitates raindrops; Silent One, with a Latin beat and percussion solo of gently ringing cymbals; political songs, one about a dead soldier and another concerning youthful revolutionaries who have no doubts; Convent/Silence, an unusual song with soft continuous cymbals which cleverly give the effect of quietness and space.  The final track is a suitable ending, The Bells Toll Kindly, about dying to the sound of bells and remembering love, but not at all morbid. The general mood of the CD is optimistic, with lots of forward-moving tunes, and many short solos on flute and guitar.  Another disc I’m glad to have in my collection.
The Ken Hatfield Sextet: For Langston is released on February1, 2013 by Arthur Circle Music.
Ann Alex.

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