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Album Review

Eric Wyatt: A Song of Hope

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Eric Wyatt: A Song of Hope
On A Song of Hope, his second album for Whaling City Sound, saxophonist Eric Wyatt offers more than hope; he offers assurance that contemporary jazz is alive and well in and around his home base of Brooklyn, NY. Wyatt, the godson of another rather well-known saxophonist, Sonny Rollins, performs in groups of various sizes, from quartet to octet, with vocals by Samara Joy on two numbers, "Fragile" and Wyatt's "Say Her Name." The almost-constants are pianist Donald Vega, bassist Eric Wheeler and drummer Jeff Watts, who are on board for eight numbers but step aside for a pair of Wyatt-Watts duets and are replaced by bassist Mike Boone and his talented fourteen-year-old son, drummer Mekhi Boone, on John Coltrane's "Central Park West" and McCoy Tyner's "Contemplation."

While there are occasional glimpses of Rollins (and Coltrane) in Wyatt's broad-shouldered tenor, for the most part it is strictly Wyatt, blowing with awareness and enthusiasm on every number. That is to say, almost every number, as he plays soprano on "Fragile" whose oracular lyric (by Sting) no doubt conveys a profound message to today's younger listeners. Joy sings well there and adds an earnest wordless vocal on the plaintive "Say Her Name" (written by Wyatt as an homage to police shooting victim Breonna Taylor). Wyatt shines brightest on the burners ("Blues for RH," "One 4 Hakim," "Sunset Park Bonita," "Contemplation") whose rapid tempos land squarely in his strike zone. Trumpeter Chris Lowery, who wrote the rhythmic "Fur Live," solos sharply on "Sunset Park Bonita," "Central Park West" and "Contemplation," as does trumpeter Theo Croker on "Blues for RH" (Roy Hargrove) and "One 4 Hakim."

The session opens with the buoyant "Song of Hope," played by the core quartet, before moving on to "Fragile," "Blues for RH" and "Fur Live." Wyatt's alluring "Chance," performed by the quartet and percussionist Kahlil Qwame Bell, has Coltrane-like overtones and a tasteful extended solo by Vega. Wyatt and Watts ace the duets, one of which ("Tain Dance") lasts for a scant thirty-two seconds. The other, "Of Things to Come RTK," closes the album. Watts is virtuosic, as he is elsewhere, while Wyatt shows his Rollins influence. In all, A Song of Hope embraces a dozen songs covering seventy-two minutes, not many of which are less than engaging. A solid sophomore valedictory by Wyatt and his companions.

Track Listing

A Song of Hope; Fragile; Blues for RH (Roy Hargrove); Fur Live; Chance; One 4 Hakim; Say Her Name; Tain Dance; Sunset Park Bonita; Central Park West; Contemplation; Of Things to Come RTK. https://www.bbc.com/news/entertainment-arts-13118290

Personnel

Eric Wyatt: saxophone; Theo Croker: trumpet; Chris Lowery: trumpet; Clifton Anderson: trombone; Donald Vega: piano; Eric Wheeler: bass; Jeff Tain Watts: drums; Mekhi Boone: drums; Mike Boone: bass; Kahlil Qwame Bell: percussion; Samara Joy: voice / vocals.

Album information

Title: A Song of Hope | Year Released: 2021 | Record Label: Whaling City Sound


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