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Buck Hill: Relax (2006)

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Buck Hill: Relax How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.

Time has not effaced the grace or diminished the power of Buck Hill, who returns after a fifteen-year absence with this remarkable new recording. The tenor man recruited two old bandmates, Jerry Jones (drums) and John Ozment (Hammond A100), plus Paul Pieper (guitar), to create music that breathes passion and invention into every song.

Hill, who is 78, still has command over his instrument. He does not waste a note, investing each one with a clear idea and making it the harbinger for the next. His band works in tight cleave with him, but when it comes time for someone to step out for a solo, each player brings in fresh ideas.

The band wastes no time. They get started right off the bat with "RH Blues (the "R stands for Roger, his given name), a bebop tune heated by Hill. He fills his phrases with a controlled, earthy power; Pieper adds some blazing guitar lines, the perfect lead-in for the Hammond of Ozment. Having set the mood, the band goes into different territorial ambit, including the Brazilian adornment of "Little Bossa. This floats nicely, a sway to the rhythm articulated by Hill and embellished by Ozment.

Hill commands the stage with "Sad Ones. His melancholy tone is saturated with feeling, each line intense and throbbing. Add his tonal variations and shifts of timbre, and this becomes a treat for the mind and the heart. "Relax is a downright dirty blues, at first swinging and later given a robust strut by Hill. The Hammond adds to the lure, the burn slow but sure.

This is a welcome return. This "mailman sure knows how to deliver the goods!

Track Listing: RH Blues; Relax; Old Folks; Little Bossa; Flamenco Sketches; Prancing; Milestones; Sad Ones.

Personnel: Buck Hill: tenor saxophone; John Ozment: Hammond A100; Paul Pieper: guitar; Jerry Jones: drums.

Record Label: Severn Records

Style: Straight-ahead/Mainstream


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