Nick Hempton, “Catch Up [Catch and Release #7]” (2015): One Track Mind

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There’s been a little wrinkle inserted in every tune from saxophonist/composer Nick Hempton’s one-song-at-a-time Catch And Release project. Sometimes the charm is found in the tempo changes, subtle harmonic tricks or in mixing up the instrumentation (the last Catch And Release track, for instance, had no drums). None of these things take Hempton away from the mission of delivering tastefully conceived and executed straight-ahead jazz.

To call the first part of C&R #7 “straight ahead” might be a bit of a stretch, however. “Catch Up” is appropriately named because for the first two-plus minutes of the performance, he, drummer Dan Aran, pianist Jeremy Manasia and bassist Dave Baron are playing free. That is, free with one rule: each player is to quote a reference or references to the first six tunes. That’s the “catch up” part of “Catch Up.”

The rest of the six minutes is spent working a swinging minor blues in 5/4 time, like Coltrane circa 1964. Hempton, revisiting the tenor sax, adds to that kind of vibe, his notes flush with soul and sentiment. Manasia’s frisky solo turn is another high point.

Seven songs in and Nick Hempton is managing even at this late juncture to introduce new ideas for adding pizzazz to every original mainstream jazz tune he conjures up. Even if that means a short walk outside while looking back.

“Catch Up” goes on sale April 15, 2015. Purchase all the ‘Catch and Release’ songs available for sale here.

In about six weeks, Nick Hempton will issue one more Catch And Release song, ending his nearly year-long experiment. Get updated on the project through his blog dedicated to chronicling its progress.

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