The Lennie Hambro Quintet: Message From Hambro (2002)
Every jazz collector takes pride in owning at least one favorite CD by an unknown artist that they consider a neglected gem; the Collectables label caters to this need with reissues that push the boundaries of obscurity. Many jazz fans will be hard pressed to place Lennie Hambro, (or anyone else on this session for that matter) simply because he never was an artist of any significance. Nevertheless, this session is an enjoyable outing with a West Coast sensibility; Hambro doubles on alto sax and flute, skating over arrangements focused heavily on composition and breezy swing. The interplay between Hambro and Garcia on the heads is lovely and unhurried and Legge, a decent pianist and composer, contributes a few worthy originals that range from the pastoral (“Hoof Beats”) to the melancholy (“Slave Girl”). These melodies perfectly suit what Hambro wants to achieve and it’s easy to see what he found so beguiling about the pianist in the first place. Unfortunately, Hambro shows his Achilles’ heel on the flute tunes; they are a little too light and airy and don’t have the punch of the others. Hambro is one of many jazz musicians who recorded infrequently, relegated to the ranks of dance hall bands. There’s a certain ragged charm in the records of second tier jazz musicians like Hambro, who never quite got their due. Pick up this record and indulge in the fact that you own an excellent record by an artist many have never encountered.
Track Listing: I Get A Kick Out of You, The Lonely One, Moon Slippers, Easy To Love, Hoof Beats, Slave Girl, Moonlight Becomes You, Heat Wave, Imagination, Message in Minor, Thanatopsis.
Personnel: Lennie Hambro-alto saxophone, flute; Wade Legge-piano; Dick Garcia-guitar; Clyde Lombardi-bass; Mle Zelnick-drums.