Hilton Ruiz: Enchantment (2003)
One of the more iconoclastic albums Ruiz recorded with Kirk was a 1975 date called The Case of the 3 Sided Dream In Audio Color. Rahsaan had more music than would fit on a single record, but not enough for four sides, so it came out on three. If Enchantment were to be issued on vinyl, it too would be a terrific three-sided record, exhibiting the leader's ability to play straight ahead, solo and Latin jazz with equal aplomb while also demonstrating his talents as a pianist, composer and bandleader.
Ruiz's acumen in the latter role is clearly evidenced in his enlistment of talented musicians others might not deem compatible and fusing them into a cohesive group. Hilton selected the great grand master bassist, veteran virtuoso Lisle Atkinson, for the central position previously filled by comparable elder statesmen Major Holley and Dr. Art Davis, clearly indicating his wisdom and respect for tradition. His recruitment of the versatile Venezuelan drummer Marlon Simon and powerful Panamanian percussionist Renato Thoms demonstrates an abiding desire to surround himself with exciting young musicians. Special guest saxophonist Chico Freeman, who blows alternately hot and cool, proves to be the perfect complement to the fiery core unit.
The disc's straight-ahead selections, “Seven Steps To Heaven,” the boppish original “I'll Call You Later,” the very Monkish shades of “Thelonious,” and Rahsaan's “The Business Ain't Nothing But The Blues,” each swing mightily. The Afro-Carribean pieces – the beautiful bossa tinged title track, the soulful cha cha cha “Sweet Cherry Pie” and the very funky boogaloo “Home Cookin'” – all dance distinctively. The disc's “third side,” a collection of five piano features including Jimmy Heath's “Gemini,” Joe Henderson's “Black Narcissus,” Strayhorn's “My Little Brown Book,” the tender original “Silhouette,” and Gordon Jenkins' “Goodbye” (which also showcases the beautiful bowing of Atkinson) is a stunning addition to the disc.
Track Listing: 1. Seven Steps to Heaven (Davis/Fieldman) - 2:11 2. Enchantment (Ruiz) - 7:12 3. I'll Call You Later (Ruiz) - 4:29 4. Sweet Cherry Pie (Ruiz) - 6:46 5. Gemini (Heath) - 4:56 6. Black Narcissus (Henderson) - 6:08 7. Shades of Thelonius (Ruiz) - 4:08 8. My Little Brown Book (Strayhorn) - 3:39 9. Silhouette (Ruiz) - 5:04 10. Goodbye (Jenkins) - 3:14 11. Home Cookin' (Ruiz) - 3:29 12. The Business Ain't Nothing But the Blues (Kirk) - 4:43
Personnel: Chico Freeman - Tenor Sax; Hilton Ruiz - Piano; Lisle Atkinson - Bass; Renato Thoms - Percussion, Conga; Marlon Simon - Drums.
Record Label: Arabesque Jazz