The Julius Hemphill Sextet: The Hard Blues (2005)
Of the six players on The Hard Blues, three recorded with Hemphill on 1991's Fat Man and The Hard BluesMarty Ehrlich, Sam Furnace (who recently passed away), and Andrew White. Ehrlich, perhaps Hemphill's most ardent disciple, is also the musical director on this album, proving his comprehension of Hemphill's approach to jazz. Recorded at the Jazz em Agosto in Portugal, the group presents itself as a hard-charging, soulful ensemble through the entire set of songs.
High impact pleasantries like "Otis' Groove" and "Band Theme" are enjoyable, though the intricacy and sophistication of Hemphill's work is better represented on their more downbeat offerings, like "Opening," "Touchic'," "Three-Step," "JiJi Tune," and "Fat Man." The unabashed beauty and sincerity of Ehrlich's solo work on "Georgia Blue" and the group's reverence on "Spiritual Chairs" are also worth mentioning.
Except for the nine-minute title track that concludes the album, most of The Hard Blues flows quickly, exposing its various compartments with joyful flair. A worthy celebration to a composer and a visionary who left us too early, The Hard Blues reminds that the best in jazz still lives, despite the obituaries.
Track Listing: Otis' Groove; Opening; Touchic'; Three-Step; Rites; Revue; JiJi Tune; Fat Man; Band Theme; Georgia Blue; Mr. Critical; Spiritual Chairs; The Hard Blues
Personnel: Marty Ehlrich- alto, soprano sax; Sam Furnace- alto, soprano sax; Aaron Stewarttenor sax; Alex Harding- baritone sax; Andy Laster- alto sax; Andre White- tenor sax
Record Label: Clean Feed Records
Style: Modern Jazz