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Wednesday, February 14, 2018

CD Review: James Hall - Lattice

James Hall (trombone); Jamie Baum (flute/alto flute); Deanna Witkowski (piano/Rhodes); Tom DiCarlo (bass); Allan Mednard (drums) + Sharel Cassidy (alto on 2 tracks).
(Review by Lance).
Trombone and flute are not your usual frontline, in fact, apart from Herbie Hancock's Speak Like a Child, I can't think of another.
It doesn't matter. Even if trom/flute duos were as common as trumpet/tenor pairings this one would still stand out from the crowd. 
The two horns gel. Hall's round sound - dry but not brittle - contrasting nicely with Baum's virtuosic flights. They interweave seamlessly it's a musical marriage. And so it should be. The title track Lattice was written by Hall and is dedicated to his now wife Kristen, portraying the development of their romance.
Sharel Cassidy adds some distinctive alto to a couple of tracks providing an extra, boppier, dimension. Witkowski is another star. Whether 'comping or soloing on piano or Rhodes Witkowski is a voice to be heard. Listening to her solo on Traveler it's no surrprise to learn that she's worked with Donny McCaslin, accompanied Lizz Wright, released six albums of her own, as well as holding down the piano chair with the Jim McNeeley led BMI/New York Jazz Orchestra to mention but a few of her past achievements
DiCarlo and Mednard hold it all together with the latter also breaking out on Traveler (their spelling). All but two of the compositions are by Hall revealing a lyricism in his writing that echoes his playing.
The two non-Hall pieces are Joe Henderson's Black Narcissus and Kenny Wheeler's Kind Folk. Wheeler was artist-in-residence during Hall's time at Lawrence University in Wiisconsin.
The final track, Terrace, has Hall blowing some bluesy muted bone, Witkowski rich chords and flowing right hand, Mednard going for the jugular, the whole shebang ending abruptly and this listener shouting WOW!
As a matter of interest, Hall and Mednard met up when they were touring with Postmodern Jukebox.
If this is the calibre of guys in PJ then this Sunday's concert at Sage Gateshead is going to be something else!
Lance.

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