Saxophonist Nick Hempton follows up on his sharp, post-bop effort The Business with another polished gem of the jazz form, Odd Man Out. Noted pianist Art Hirahara returns for this release, as does bassist Marco Panascia and drummer Dan Aran, and as before, the set list is mostly Hempton originals with a couple of covers tossed in for good measure.
There is one notable change, however, and that is the addition — for four tracks, anyway — of ace trombonist Michael Dease.
It’s a pairing that, quite simply, works. Hempton’s tenor has that sometimes salty yet inviting Paul Gonsalves vibe, the perfect tone and articulation for all the swinging going on here, and his alto is sweet and soulful like Cannonball. Dease, the heir apparent to Curtis Fuller, is present on some of the hotter bop numbers such as “Nice Crackle” and “Fifth Floor Run-Up,” as well as the cool soul-jazz groove of “The Slip,” where both put in sublime performances in tandem and alongside each other; the rapport between them is quite good.
Where he’s the only horn player, Hempton fares just as well. He’s got total command of the blues form, as evidenced by “The Winnie Blues,” and also shows a good handle on ballads, too, such as the Ellington/Strayhorn chestnut “Day Dream,” a tender duet with Hirahara. Hempton ends it all with a charming adaptation of a cowboy tune Randy Newman wrote for the movie Three Amigos, “Blue Shadows.”
Odd Man Out is consistent in its mission to bring you mainstream jazz played will all the romanticism, melancholy and accomplishment that used to be expected from the great performers of jazz’s golden era and also what I’ve come to expect from Nick Hempton.
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Odd Man Out will go on sale August 13, by Posi-Tone Records.