You might not know trumpet player Al Hood, but he's the pro's pro: he's toured with the official Harry James and Glenn Miller tribute bands, recorded and performed in ensembles led by Ray Charles, Curtis Fuller, Arturo Sandoval and others, and is a longstanding member of the Denver Brass. He's also a tenured professor at the University of Denver's Lamont School of Music, as is pianist Dave Hanson, who played on and arranged this Little Taste, Hood's first date as a leader. "Dave's writing embodies the spirit of great writers such as Nelson Riddle, Johnny Mandel, and Don Sebesky," says Hood.
Similarly, Hood's playing embodies the spirit of great popular trumpet players such as Herb Alpert, Art Farmer, and Chuck Mangione. His rich and sure trumpet is the first sound you hear on the opening "I Remember Clifford," Benny Golson's famous tribute to Clifford Brown, one of Hood's primary influences (and Golson's too). Hood later honors another master with Lee Morgan's "Ceora," where his trumpet timbres combine with Rich Chiaraluce's tenor sax to sharpen its angles and blues into the sound of bebop. Both tributes present jazz played soulfully without being soul- jazz.
A member of the Tommy Dorsey and Artie Shaw tribute bands, Rich Chiaraluce picks up clarinet to help Hood rock "Do You Know What It Means to Miss New Orleans?" with Dixieland style and swing, and also chirps in alto on the title track.
Hanson proves deserving of Hood's comparison to Riddle and trustworthy with Hood's arrangements: after pairing Hood's singing trumpet with strings for the first verse, Hanson opens the framework of "In the Wee Small Hours of the Morning" to accommodate Hood's sweet improvisation, and he sharply contrasts bold trumpet statements with softer orchestral music in "Habanera for Kyrie."
Hood's supple yet strong tone rediscovers such pop confections as "Pure Imagination" (from Willie Wonka & The Chocolate Factory) and "If I Loved You" (from Carousel), which both sound and feel simply beautifulespecially his closing improvisation on "Loved You," played in that strong yet sad Miles Davis trumpet ballad tone.
I Remember Clifford; Pure Imagination; It's Only Everything; Here's to Life; Do You Know What
It Means to Miss New Orleans?; Just a Little Taste; In the Wee Small Hours of the Morning;
Ceora; Pastoral Blue; Habanera for Kyrie; If I Loved You; Nostalgic Blues.
Al Hood: trumpet, flugelhorn; Dave Hanson: piano, synthesizer, arranger, conductor; Ken
Walker: bass; Todd Reid: drums; Rich Chiarluce: clarinet, alto saxophone, tenor
saxophone; Steve Hood: vocal; Pam Endsley: flute; Lisa Martin: oboe; Susan McCullough:
horn; Larisa Fesmire: violin; John Hilton: violin; Karen Kinzie: violin; Rachel Segal: violin;
David Waldman: violin; Bradley Watson: violin; Catherine Beeson: viola; Basil Vendryes:
viola; Kitty Knight: cello; Rich Slavich: cello; John Arnsen: bass; Claude Sin: concertmaster.
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