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Nick Hempton: Catch and Release

Edward Blanco By

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Veteran New York saxophonist Nick Hempton lets loose with the stellar Catch and Release, a special project that has been a year-long journey and an experiment of sorts, in recording and releasing music. The album contains eight original Hempton compositions except that each tune was recorded and released separately for purchase on-line on the internet for, as the saxophonist states, "putting it into the marketplace the way people are already buying it." Though the project officially kicked off in July of 2015 with the offering of the swinging hard-bop-styled title-track as the first test of the new experiment, the piece-meal staggered release of each track now culminates in the band's fourth album of straight ahead swinging post-bop jazz with a tip of the hat to such greats as Sonny Stitt, Gene Ammons, Benny Goodman and Miles Davis.

Each track was recorded at Smalls Jazz Club in New York from June 2014 through May 2015 with Hempton's working band that includes bassist Dave Baron, drummer Dan Aran and pianists' Tadataka Unno and Jeremy Manasia. Hempton—who prefers on using his regular cast of players when performing gigs or recording—does favor bringing in guests artists to perform on certain compositions, sometimes penned for particular players in mind. As such, appearing as special guests on these recordings are, renowned guitarist Peter Bernstein, trumpeter Bruce Harris, pianist Rossano Sportiello and fellow tenorist Jerry Weldon.

Pianist Unno—who sits in on the first three tracks—provides the introduction to the opening "Hanging for Dear Life," a mid-tempo mover giving bassist Baron some solo space as the saxophonist shapes the melody in what turns out to be a light sizzler. In contrast, "Change for a Dollar" is a swinging bop tune that features some of Hempton's appreciable chops on the tenor while the toned down "Target Practice" resembles more of a slow burner showcasing a bit of Aran's drumming prowess and playfulness on the cymbals.

The balladic piece of the album goes to the bluesy "Montauk Mosey" displaying the softer-side of the leader backed up this time, by pianist Sportiello on his only appearance on the recording. Hempton and crew bring the music to a close beginning with the swinging "The Third Degree" featuring icon Bernstein on the guitar followed by solos from trumpeter Harris on "Northberg Suite" and ends on the creative "Catch Up," featuring a superb piano solo from Manasia then, and the title track.

Saxophonist Nick Hempton's experiment succeeds quite well here, in album format for those who have not already sampled individual tracks as originally intended. The music is engaging and certainly entertaining adding to that, the caliber of musicianship and cast, leading to the obvious conclusion that this Hempton release is well worth catching.

Track Listing: Hanging For Dear Life; Change For A Dollar; Target Practice; Montauk Mosey; The Third Degree; Nordberg Suite; Catch Up; Catch And Release.

Personnel: Nick Hempton: saxophones; Dan Aran: drums; Dave Baron: bass; Tadataka Unno: piano (1-3); Jeremy Manasia: piano (5-8); Jerry Weldon: tenor saxophone (2); Rossano Sportiello: piano (4); Peter Bernstein: guitar (5); Bruce Harris: trumpet (6).

Title: Catch And Release | Year Released: 2016 | Record Label: Self Produced

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