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James Hurt: Dark Grooves - Mystical Rhythms

Jim Santella By

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For his first recording session as a leader, pianist James Hurt creates quite a rhythmic stir. Performing his own compositions, Hurt steers his piano trio and guests in a modern mainstream program that features drummers. Polyrhythms and frequent changes in meter or tempo keep the listener on the edge of his seat, while familiar structures, such as a New Orleans shuffle or calypso, duck in and out of the formula. Hurt’s bassists employ the acoustic stand-up bass, helping to capture a mood that has roots in the tradition and branches in the avant-garde. Each drummer presents his free patterns with taste; there are no backbeats or ungainly repetitive strides. Frequent ostinati from bass and piano allow the drummer to step up and create interesting solo passages. Guest saxophonists lend melody; there are three at once on "Waterfall."

Highly recommended, Hurt’s album ranges from smooth melody to harsh outside music, sometimes within the same piece. "Eleven Dreams," for instance, comes across as outright avant-garde at the start, then evolves into a loping blues. Similarly, each of the pianist’s arrangements allows for variety and passion that takes off in an impressive outing for a jazz newcomer.


Track Listing: Neptune; The Tree of Life; Waterfall; Mars; Jupiter; Eleven Dreams; Venus; Dark Nines; Faith; Pyramids; Orion

Personnel: James Hurt- piano; Francois Moutin, Eric Revis- double bass; Ari Hoenig, Eric McPherson, Nasheet Waits, Dana Murray- drums; Jacques Schwarz-Bart, Greg Tardy- tenor saxophone; Antonio Hart, Abraham Burton, Sherman Irby- alto saxophone; Russell Gunn- trumpet; Robin Eubanks- trombone; Elizabeth Kantumanou- vocal chant on "Waterfall."

Title: Dark Grooves - Mystical Rhythms | Year Released: 1999 | Record Label: Blue Note Records


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