Dan Pratt, “Gross Blues” (2016): Something Else! video premiere

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The up-and-comer tenor sax sage Dan Pratt made a couple of well-received organ combo records that avoided a slavish devotion to the stereotypes of such a setup. But now that Pratt’s going all-acoustic with a combo more amenable to bop, Pratt still manages to avoid doing things strictly by the bop book.

Hymn for the Happy Man, due out June 3, 2016 on Pratt’s Same Island Music imprint, signals a shift in Pratt’s strategy as he brings on board new sidemen with Mike Eckroth on piano, Gregory Hutchinson on drums and the eminent Christian McBride on double bass. Here, Pratt brings his own portrayal of jazz to one of the most classic combos of jazz, the sax-led acoustic quartet. As a member of McBride’s big band, Pratt uses this opportunity to mix talents with his boss in a more personal setting, too. Through his eight tunes that are mostly originals, he puts lush ballads like “River” alongside dynamic modern jazz pieces (“Warsaw”), a Big Easy beat underneath “Junket,” and the self-explanatory “Riddle Me Rhumba.” Pratt even steps outside his comfort zone of the tenor saxophone and ‘goes alto’ for a few tunes.

In the video premiering about, Pratt undertakes his album opener “Gross Blues” with a stage band of Eckroth, Aiden Carroll (bass) and Allan Mednard (drums). An impish blues in the proud tradition of Thelonius Monk, the live version might lack McBride’s signature note-perfect solo — nothing to fault with Carroll’s though — but the extra looseness makes up for that. Pratt’s sweet, resonant tone is rangy and puts a little polish on Carroll’s and Mednard’s crooked groove even as he gets funky. Meanwhile, Eckroth’s relaxed demeanor on piano makes it all appear natural and unforced.

Dan Pratt’s new direction is getting off to a splendid start.


S. Victor Aaron

S. Victor Aaron

S. Victor Aaron is an SQL demon for a Fortune 100 company by day, music opinion-maker at night. His musings are strewn out across the interwebs on jazz.com, AllAboutJazz.com, a football discussion board and some inchoate customer reviews of records from the late 1990s on Amazon under a pseudonym that will never be revealed. E-mail him at svaaron@somethingelsereviews .com or follow him on Twitter at https://twitter.com/SVictorAaron
S. Victor Aaron
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