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In his liner notes to Lonesome Tree, Scott Yanow describes coleaders Karen Hammack and Paul Kreibich as “a pair of underrated talents who deserve to be much better known” — an observation that applies as well to countless other Jazz musicians both past and present. Even so, this is an admirable debut for the Hammack / Kreibich Quartet whose other members are straightshooting tenor saxophonist John Gross and dependable bassist Putter Smith. Four is the album’s dominant number with the quartet performing four numbers each by Hammack and Kreibich along with their cowritten “Mr. InBetween” and the late bassist Eric Von Essen’s composition, “Another Moon.” Hammack is an impressive soloist and an even better accompanist, while Kreibich plays with the dexterity and assurance that come from having logged time with Gene Harris (five years as a member of the pianist’s quartet), Ray Charles, Carmen McRae, Herb Geller, Conte Candoli and many others. Everyone is on the same page, and teamwork is the operative notion throughout. The pacing is exemplary with pleasing variations in mood and tempo and a number of congenial melodies but none that is likely to linger in one’s memory for more than a moment or two. The session opens with Hammack’s sunny “Something Good” and “Waltz for Bev,” followed by “Mr. InBetween,” Kreibich’s boppish “Elegy,” Hammack’s ballad “Sweet Mystery” and her gently swaying “Lonesome Tree.” Von Essen’s breezy theme, “Another Moon,” is followed by Kreibich’s meditative “Song for Eric,” and the album closes with two more of his compositions, the waltzlike “Thoughtprints” and funky “Space Mistress” (on which percussionist Ramon Banda sits in). Even though there’s nothing here that will raise any goosebumps, Lonesome Tree is a charming and wellplayed album of acoustic Jazz by four firstrate musicians who do deserve to be much more widely known and appreciated.
Track Listing: Something Good; Waltz for Bev; Mr. In
Personnel: Karen Hammack, piano; John Gross, tenor saxophone; Putter Smith, bass; Paul Kreibich, drums; Ramon Banda, percussion (on