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In the Pocket is a straight-ahead trombone album from John Hines. The majority of this group is from the Denver, Colorado area. Hines shows a good mix of nine standards, jazz standards and original tunes from keyboardist Michael Pagan.
The opening title track, written by Hines, typifies the session with a bright melody line. Hines has a resounding delivery that would have been welcome on any of the late 1950s sessions at Blue Note or Prestige studios. On the Rodgers & Hart tune "I Could Write A Book," Hugh Ragin plays tasty muted trumpet behind Hines' melody. I've only heard Ragin in the company of free jazz players, like David Murray and Roscoe Mitchell, and it is a pleasure to hear his work on this session. The Fain & Webster tune "Secret Love" is taken up-tempo and given a pseudo-Latin treatment. Paul Mitchell's "Hard Times," most often associated with David "Fathead" Newman during his Ray Charles days, is here given an appropriate churchy treatment with Pagan providing an organ background. The three ballads, Coltrane's "Central Park West," "In A Sentimental Mood" and "More Than A Friend," present attractive themes. The latter, a Pagan original, makes effective use of the trumpet-trombone harmony. Only on "A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square," which is taken at mid-tempo and as a jazz waltz, sung by Denver vocalist Angela Holley, is there a misstep. The lyrics to this ballad don't seem to work at the accelerated tempo.
All in all, it's a pleasure to welcome another swinging trombone. The group work well together with Pagan acting as an arranger and cogent soloist and piano support. Williams takes some effective solos, as on "Central Park West," and Ward keeps the percussion snappy.
Track Listing: In The Pocket, I Could Write A Book, Secret Love, Central Park West, Hard Times, A Nightengale Sang in Berkeley Square, More Than A Friend, Kickin' Back, In A Sentimental Mood.
Personnel: John Hines, trombone; Hugh Ragin,trumpet; Michael Pagan, keyboards; Mike Williams, bass; Rob Ward, drums; Angela Holley,vocals