Texas has become a jazz hotbed - partly due to the excellent curriculum provided by North Texas State University, and a thriving arts scene. However, Dallas native, Doug Hall’s early musical training was firmly rooted in the classical idiom while performing with the Dallas Symphony at the tender age of fourteen. With his second release, recorded in New York City, Hall shines as a pianist/composer who has quite a bit to say.
The pianist and his New York based affiliates meld emphatic lines with streamlined swing vamps, evidenced on the opener, “After The Fact.” While Kolker, here performing on bass clarinet and the pianist concoct expansive soundscapes amid odd-metered, yet tuneful unison choruses on, “Dark Stream.” Hall’s McCoy Tyner influence seems apparent in spots via his proclivities for pursuing diminutive crescendos and swirling chord clusters. Furthermore, the pianist is apt to inject briefly actualized shifts in strategy, marked by agile right hand leads and foreboding undercurrents. No doubt, Hall makes every note count and seems intent on illuminating the compositional frameworks and melodic underpinnings!
Kolker sits out on the soft and elegantly stated ballad titled “Under The Rainbow,” as the band kicks the proceedings back into high gear on the airy, funk/blues-based piece, “Side Trip.” Simply stated, Hall offers the best of both worlds thanks to his shrewd compositional pen and penchant for injecting off-kilter yet largely memorable hooks into his works. Fervently recommended.