The nice thing about jazz is that even when an artist covers a standard that has been recorded many times and many ways, the music can still sound like something new, despite its familiar feel. Trumpeter Tim Hagans accomplishes this on Alone Together, a mix of old and new.
A Dayton (Ohio) native, Hagans has plenty of experience behind him: performances with Bob Belden, Miles Davis tributes with the Finnish Umo Jazz Orchestra and his own Beautiful Lily (Pirouet, 2006). On Alone Together he's joined by pianist Marc Copland, bassist Drew Gress and drummer Jochen Ruckert.
Copland penned four of the tracks, including "See You Again." Hagans sizzles on this fast-paced selection, with Gress and Ruckert more than adequately handling the rhythm. Copland contributes a delightful solo, but it's Hagans' lead that makes this tune a keeper.
Another Copland original, "Sweet Peach Tree," delivers more of Hagans' rapid dexterity. His notes are crisp and effective. Ruckert is more emphatic as he mixes the snare, toms and cymbals to underscore the lead, while Copland's solo gives it extra punch.
The first of three standards is Gene De Paul/Don Raye's "You Don't Know What Love Is." The quartet really stretches out on this ballad, which runs almost nine minutes. Gress contributes a nice solo on the slightly longer title song, written by Arthur Schwartz/Howard Dietz. Hagans, Copland and Ruckert lick their chops on this one, as well.
The set closes with a rather subdued take on Victor Young's "Stella by Starlight," with Hagans shifting to muted trumpet. While nicely done, particularly during Copland's haunting solo, it's a bit of a letdown after the other songs.
Overall, Alone Together is an exciting collection, with strong performances throughout. No track is disappointing, although the placement of "Stella" is a bit like having Luke destroy the Death Star 15 minutes early, and then spending the rest of Star Wars watching him flirt with Leia.
See You Again; Not Even the Rain; Sweet Peach Tree; Over and Back; You Don't Know What Love Is; Alone Together; Stella by Starlight.
Tim Hagans: trumpet; Marc Copland: piano; Drew Gress: bass; Jochen Ruckert: drums.
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