Michael Hackett: Circles (2005)
This is a first album for trumpeter Michael Hackett, who brings big band experience from such organizations as the Toshiko Akioshi Jazz Orchestra, the Scott Whitfield Jazz Orchestra, the Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra, and, currently, the Buselli/Wallrab Jazz Orchestra in Indianapolis. Hackett does indeed have a beautiful tone suggesting the clarion and lyrical tone of prime-time Freddie Hubbard. He has assembled a three-horn front line for his sextet, which includes veteran trombonist Vincent Gardner and former McCoy Tyner drummer Aaron Scott, plus Todd Bashore on alto and soprano sax. In addition, pianist Mike Holober has recorded two well-received albums over the past two years with Phil Palombi on bass.
Five of the eight compositions are originals and with one exception, the two standards (Bronislau Kaper's "Invitation" and the Livingston/Evans ballad "Never Let Me Go") are the best moments on the album. Michael Hackett's title tune, which comes close to a fourteen-minute presentation, is also memorable, beginning with a multi-horn unison reading that sounds like vintage Blue Note from the early 1960's (more specifically from Jackie McLean's Destination Out period) with lots of time for individual solos. It also stands out as a well arranged piece that holds attention for the long ride.
There's nothing wrong with the other tunes but, by the same token, there's nothing memorable either. One can well assume that Hackett's recording future will progress nicely and that we can look forward to his future ventures.
Track Listing: My Good Friend, Blues to John, Heidi's Song, Invitation, Even As We Speak, Circles, Unrequited, Never Let Me Go.
Personnel: Michael Hackett, trumpet and flugelhorn; Todd Bashore, alto and soprano sax; Vincent Gardner, trombone; Mike Holober, piano; Phil Palombi, bass; Aaron Scott,drums.