David Hazeltine and Jim Rotondi: Close to You & New Vistas

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These two new releases by Criss Cross regulars David Hazeltine and Jim Rotondi present the pair in different contexts from their earlier releases on the label, permitting the two to showcase some additional aspects of their increasingly recognized mastery of the jazz tradition.

David Hazeltine
Close to You
Criss Cross

Close To You , Hazeltine's first trio outing for the label, features the pianist with Peter Washington and Joe Farnsworth, his rhythm section mates from the cooperative hard bop sextet One For All. The date follows in the fine trio traditions of Cedar Walton, Tommy Flanagan and Ahmad Jamal, three of the several discernible influences Hazeltine has assimilated into his own distinctive style. An extremely accomplished arranger, Hazeltine starts off the disc with a swinging take on the title track (the latest of his many personalized interpretations of songs from the Burt Bacharach songbook) that recalls Walton's classic trio, with Farnsworth demonstrating his well known love for the style of the late-great Billy Higgins. "Waltzing at Suite One," the first of four originals by the leader, follows featuring Washington's well rounded bass work. Hazeltine's modern arrangement of "I'm Old Fashioned," first heard with trombonist Steve Davis, allows everyone an opportunity to shine, with Farnsworth obviously enjoying his exchanges with Washington and the leader. A tender "You Don't Know What Love Is" precedes Hazeltine's pretty dedication "Barbara."

Hazeltine pays tribute to the largely unheralded Buddy Montgomery with a swinging rendition of "Buddy's Tune." Another dedication, "Blues For P. Wash," follows, spotlighting the bassist's excellent articulation on the leader's soulful melody. The session's final original, "Minor Adjustment," is a smoking straight ahead cooker reminiscent of Horace Silver. The rarely heard "I'll Only Miss Her," by Jimmy van Huesen, is a wonderfully lyrical rediscovery on which the pianist exhibits the emotional depth of his interpretative skills. The brisk bluesy arrangement of "Willow Weep For Me" that closes the disc shows again that Hazeltine has his own way of looking at things and making them work.

Jim Rotondi
New Vistas
Criss Cross

New Vistas by One For All hornman Jim Rotondi features the intrepid trumpeter in the organ combo setting that seldom spotlights brass players. From the opening original "Blues Nouveau" the leader lets it be known that he's up to something different, interpolating mannerisms associated with Lester Bowie and Woody Shaw into his primarily Freddie Hubbard influenced style. The rhythm section of organist Sam Yahel, guitarist Peter Bernstein and drummer Bill Stewart is truly inspiring and serves as a dynamic launching pad for some highflying soloing by Rotondi and fellow frontliner Chris Potter. A second Rotondi original "John Force", demonstrates the leader's growing compositional acuity on a funky number that hearkens to Hubbard's CTI days. Two Blue Note classics, Buster Williams' "Firewater" and Duke Pearson's "My Love Waits" feature Potter's flute, giving the ensemble an elegantly unique sound. Bernstein's "Autumn Chill" is a bright and breezy waltz featuring Rotondi's muted trumpet. His mellifluous flugelhorn is heard to great affect on Gershwin's "Isn't It A Pity". Potter's "Assisi" is an intensely exotic excursion at times reminiscent of In A Silent Way. Rotondi's concluding "Stranger Than Fiction" returns the band to the hard bop fold, but not until after he's shown that it's not the only place his talent can take him.

Close to You

Tracks: 1. Close to You (6:08); 2. Waltzing at Suite One (5:48); 3. I'm Old Fashioned (6:57); 4. You Don't Know What Love Is (7:10); 5. Barbara (5:05); 6. Buddy's Tune (6:45); 7. Blues for P. Wash (6:23); 8. Minor Adjustment (6:22); 9. I'll Only Miss Her (4:48); 10. Willow Weep for Me (8:16).
Personnel: Joe Farnsworth: Drums; David Hazeltine: Piano; Peter Washington: Bass.

New Vistas

Tracks: 1. Blues Nouveau (8:23); 2. John Force (7:39); 3. Firewater (6:42); 4. My Love Waits (7:30); 5. Autumn Chill (6:54); 6. Isn't It a Pity (8:40); 7. Assisi (7:10); 8. Stranger Than Fiction (6:19).
Personnel: Peter Bernstein: Guitar; Jim Rotondi: Trumpet, Flugelhorn; Sam Yahel: Hammond Organ.

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