Although Hank Crawford's second Milestone LP was made in 1984, it's never been available on CD until this 1998 release. It's a welcome, enjoyable date that finds Hank digging into what he does best. There's a bit 'a funk ("Survival"), a bit 'a blues ("Used To Be Love" and "Down Home Blues"), some ballads (the yucky Kenny Rogers hit "Through The Years") and a little boogaloo (the title track). With producer Bob Porter at the helm, a first-rate cast of notable players is on hand too. Jimmy Ponder and Melvin Sparks take turns on guitar, Bernard Purdie rocks on drums and the horn section includes baritone-man Howard Johnson and Crawford's longtime partner, David "Fathead" Newman, on tenor and flute. Pianist Cedar Walton is on board too, but (surprisingly) he's not offered the same share of the spotlight the guitarists get and, as a result, sounds a little anonymous here. But that deep, rich, signature sound of Hank Crawford's alto saxophone is a reliable joy; heard to great effect on sessions such as this.
As usual, his happy wailing works best at up-tempos or digging in on the blues. Crawford can even redeem the bland ballads he covers (his straight R&B approach to "When A Man Loves A Woman" offers considerable proof). But there's enough of that good Hank Crawford soul to keep Down on the Deuce interesting and worthwhile.
Tracks:Down on the Deuce; Used To Be Love; Down Home Blues; Through The Years; Survival; When a Man Loves a Woman.
Hank Crawford: alto sax; Cedar Walton: piano, electric piano; Jimmy Ponder, Melvin Sparks: guitar: Wilbur Bascomb Jr.: bass; Bernard Purdie: drums; Danny Moore, Martin Banks: trumpets; David "Fathead" Newman: tenor sax, flute; Howard Johnson: baritone sax.
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