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Chris Hazelton: After Dark

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Chris Hazelton: After Dark
Imagine walking down a street After Dark, with nothing important happening, when the sound of music nearby can be heard. Pausing for a moment to listen more closely, the thought occurs that "this is really rather good; I should hang around for a while." That is exactly the vibe that Kansas City-based organist Chris Hazelton and his ensemble wish to convey on this bright and smoothly swinging album.

While the untimely passing of maestro Joey DeFrancesco in August 2022 left a huge void in the Hammond B3 universe, others are seeking to weather the loss and carry the torch onward; Hazelton is definitely one of them. He clearly has ample technique, and any lack of mind-blowing gymnastics a la DeFrancesco may rest in large measure on the group's choice of material, which is by and large sunny yet self-disciplined.

Whatever the mood or tempo, Hazelton fits it like a glove, as do baritone saxophonist Brett Jackson (a real find) and the others, guitarist James Anderson, drummer John Kizilarmut and (on three numbers) conguero Pat Conway. Jackson has a heavy sound, more akin to Cecil Payne or Harry Carney than Gerry Mulligan or especially Swedish master Lars Gullin. What is more important is that he is a superb soloist, lending resourcefulness as well as weight to every number.

Anderson is an engaging soloist too, as he shows whenever the need arises, while also erasing the need for a pianist. Conway adds rhythm and color to George Coleman's tasteful "Amsterdam After Dark," Bobby Timmons' buoyant "So Tired" and the handsome finale, Michel Legrand's "Watch What Happens." The other themes are Hank Marr's "Easy Talk," Kerry Strayer's "Jammin' at the Kirk," Jerome Richardson's "Groove Merchant" and the session's lone ballad, Mulligan's plaintive "Night Lights." None is less than seductive.

Indeed, "seductive" is a word that faithfully describes this album in its entirety. If you are ever walking down a street and hearing music like this streaming forth from a nearby venue, be sure to pause for awhile and listen more closely.

Track Listing

Amsterdam After Dark; East Talk; Jammin' At The Kirk; Nightlights; So Tired; The Groove Merchant; Watch What Happens.

Personnel

Chris Hazelton
organ, Hammond B3
Brett Jackson
saxophone
Pat Conway
congas

Album information

Title: After Dark | Year Released: 2023 | Record Label: Cellar Records


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