There are few things in this world that the jazz lover can compare to that of hearing a live performance. There is a type of audience participation that is lacking when he sits at home and listens to the album. Perhaps he even finds himself wondering what it would be like to be left alone with the band.
Frank Hewitt's album Fresh from the Cooler is one of those rare moments when the listener is granted the privilege of sitting in with the band and possibly getting a taste of what it is like to be a part of the ensemble. Recorded in the New York downtown club, Smalls, on a night when the club was closed, this record is the offspring of a private session recorded with one of Hewitt's most exciting bandsAri Roland on bass and the late Jimmy Lovelace on drums.
The repertoire of the album is familiar enough to most listeners; every track being a known standard of the jazz literature. It is, however, this acquaintance with the music that leaves the band room to grow and expound. The track "Monk's Mood is a particularly good example in this regard. With a beautifully complex piano intro, Hewitt sets up what is probably one of the more moving and impressive tracks on the album. The track features both Hewitt and Roland, whom both seem to embellish the melody and explore deeper rhythmic and harmonic concepts in their solos.
One of the more exciting elements of this album is its authenticity. On "Cherokee the listener is first greeted with the voice of Hewitt explaining to the band the need to take this tune "up...seriously up . What follows is one of the most stunningly fast versions of "Cherokee probably ever recorded. The band follows Hewitt on this track with astounding proficiency, reacting to his rhythmic ideas like seasoned veterans.
Hewitt, sometime after his death, is slowly becoming more respected and sought after in the jazz idiom, and this album, with its artistic creativity and solid musicality, is a direct representation of why he should not be overlooked.
Personnel: Frank Hewitt: piano; Ari Roland; bass; Jimmy Lovelace: drums.