There’s an abundance of talented young Jazz musicians on the scene today, far more than the traffic can bear, and chances are that only a handful will ever become well–known and/or wealthy. Scott Hall, who’s never been one to sit around and simply let things happen, knows well the odds against musical success, especially in a niche market whose appeal to the masses will always be minimal. So instead of relying on talent alone — he has plenty, by the way — the Chicago–based trumpeter established his own record label, Corridor, which has released several exemplary discs including Strength in Numbers, on which Hall presides over his own intrepid quartet. Not content simply to lead the group, he also wrote and arranged everything on the album. As a player, Hall is an ardent post–bopper with a clear, burnished tone and superior technique, which these days is enough to secure his place in the larger chorus but no more. Anything beyond that requires either uncommonly good fortune, a magical press agent/business manager or affiliation with a record club. Instead of waiting for that to happen, Hall keeps pressing forward, enlisting on his maiden voyage the services of three able shipmates who know how to navigate in even the choppiest waters. Montzka is an inventive helmsman whether on piano or organ (“Cold Peanut Butter,” “One Bar Code”), flashing his impressive chops on the up-tempo numbers and playing with delicacy and warmth on the more tranquil pieces such as “For Eyes.” As for bassist Kohut and drummer Dana Hall, they are so perfectly in synch that this sounds like a working group (which it may well be). Hall’s compositions are notably engaging, especially the faster–paced trio of “Latin on Lawndale,” “Scott’s Samba” and “Do Not Wet.” In charting an over–all impression of Strength in Numbers, we can’t improve upon the canny appraisal of Barry Winograd, another hard–working Chicago musician who declares in the liner notes that “this is a good, solid debut recording that leaves you wanting, hoping for, and expecting more.” Well put, Barry, and seconded here.
Track listing: Latin on Lawndale; Cold Peanut Butter; Moments of Momentum; For Eyes; Scott’s Samba; One Bar Coda; Strength in Numbers; Do Not Wet (51:28).
Scott Hall, trumpet, flugelhorn; Karl Montzka, piano, organ; Larry Kohut, bass; Dana Hall, drums.
Contact: Corridor Records, P.O. Box 47739, Chicago, IL 60647