Nick Hempton, “Change For A Dollar [Catch and Release #8]” (2015): One Track Mind

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The last of Nick Hempton’s Catch And Release series — out June 1, 2015 — ends his “one tune at a time” project on a snappy note. Pairing the altoist with the veteran tenor sax big leaguer Jerry Weldon (Lionel Hampton Orchestra, Harry Connick, Jr.’s Big Band), Hempton puts together a straight-at-ya bop number he calls “Change For A Dollar” that has the punch produced by twice as many saxophones.

The twelve-bar blues that makes up the basic melody serves merely as parameters within which Hempton and Weldon go to work. Hempton’s smaller horn shreds the scales with the proficiency and feeling of Sonny Stitt while Weldon flashes his brawny old school swing a la Johnny Griffin. The unison lines which mark the break between solos — and sometimes within solos– are played a little different each time to mix things up a bit.

Tadataka Unno’s piano becomes the third solo voice after Weldon’s turn, consisting of nimble single line patterns and full-fisted chords that are full of energy and devoid of clichés, while Dave Baron (bass) with Dan Aran (drums) solidify the rhythm section. For the cherry on top, Hempton and Weldon engage in show-stopping call and response, then it’s one more go around of the them together on the head and out they go.

Man, this Catch And Release endeavor has been loads of fun. Thankfully, there are still cats like Nick Hempton out there who earnestly tackle straight ahead jazz that way.

“Change For A Dollar” goes on sale June 1, 2015. Purchase all the ‘Catch and Release’ songs available for sale here.

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