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His fifth album as leader and follow up to the critically acclaimed Night Owl (Big Bridge Music, 2011), Jeff Hackworth's Soul To Go! offers a brash new statement packed with bop, blues and soulful renditions of jazz classics. A New York-based saxophonist of note, and like many a great sax menSonny Rollins
among otherswho have called the Big Apple their home at some point in their respective careers, has the benefit of drawing from the jazz-rich environment of the city for a supporting cast of players which he does for this effort.
Among the veteran musiciansall leaders in their own rightof his vibrant quartet, is legendary guitarist Ed Cherry
, anchors the rhythm section delivering a pounding beat when required and a light brushes on obvious balladic tracks like the beautiful "Autumn Nocturne" and others. The Ellington/Troup classic "The Feeling of Jazz" gets a relaxed humble read from the band yet, offers plenty of solo space for Hackworth and others.
Sounding a tad like the master himself, the saxophonist delivers a superb Coltrane-like performance on a fresh new arrangement of Trane's "Wise One," followed by a spicy saxophone-led blues rumble on the original "Blues In A Few," which happens to showcase appreciable solo support from every member of the group. Featuring the tender side of Hackworth's tenor saxophone voice, the music turns soft and gentle on a delicious rendition of the Rogers and Hart standard "Little Girl Blue," then, with strong highlights from Cherry, slides into a bit more upbeat texture on the original, "Live and Learn."
Providing some of his best solo sparks of the disc, Hackworth winds down the music with the burning Billy Strayhorn
tribute, "Under A Strayhorn Sky" and comes to a swinging finale in a muscular reprisal of the old Larry Russell/Inez James/Buddy Pepper song "Vaya Con Dios" sounding much livelier than when first recorded by the late Anita O'Day
in 1952, making this one of the definite highlights of the album. Hackworth states ..."my fifth album as a leader and I think It's my best yet," while obviously not an objective statement by any measure, delivered from a body of tender swinging sounds, Soul To Go! captures an exciting command performance from which, drawing such a conclusion, is certainly understandable.
Track Listing: Soul To Go!; Autumn Nocturne; The Feeling of Jazz; Wise One; Blues In a Few; Little Girl Blue; Live and Learn; Under A Strayhorn Sky; Vaya Con Dios.
Personnel: Jeff Hackworth: tenor Saxophone; Ed Cherry: guitar; Radam Schwartz: Hammond B3 organ; Vince Ector: drums.