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Still adventurous after all these years

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Trumpeter Terumasa Hino, at age 79 a jazz dynamo and elder statesman in his native Japan, divides his time between his homeland and the U.S. He worked steadily in New York starting in the mid-1970s, playing and recording in the bands of saxophonist Jackie McLean and drummer Elvin Jones, among others.

This hard-bop player, whose musical forays have ranged from jazz-rock fusion to the avant-garde, became a snowbird four years ago. He was attracted to Southwest Florida primarily to golf in the winter and spring, returning to Japan for concert tours and club dates for about half of the year.

Hino was the special guest of the Naples Philharmonic Jazz Orchestra for the quintet's Wednesday, January 12 All That Jazz concert at Artis-Naples' Daniels Pavilion. By his recollection, this was Hino's first performance in the U.S. as a bandleader or featured player in more than 10 years.

And what an interesting performance it was, revealing Hino's trumpet mastery, range, playfulness and enthusiasm as he found ways to interact musically with each of the quintet members. They included tenor saxophonist and artistic director Lew Del Gatto, trumpeter Dan Miller, pianist Jerry Stawski, bassist Kevin Mauldin and drummer Mike Harvey.

The evening's program included a couple of Hino originals plus six other tunes, all but one from the jazz canon. They opened with his “Mitsu” (Density Blues), which featured funky, teasing stops and starts. The Beatles' hit “And I Love Her” was the lone non-jazz tune on the bill. In this improvisational setting, trumpeters Hino and Miller traded melodic threads to great effect.

The other original in the evening's opening concert was Hino's “Alone, Alone and Alone,” the title track on his 1967 debut album. He didn't record it first, however. Trumpeter Blue Mitchell was touring Japan with pianist Horace Silver's band, and heard Hino playing the tune in concert. Mitchell asked for a copy of the lead sheet, and included it on his next recording, Down With It! (Blue Note, 1965).

Hino wrote “Alone, Alone and Alone” when he was 20. Almost 60 years later, he keeps it fresh and lovely. On this evening, he opened with an avant-garde edginess, playing his horn into the piano strings to create an echo effect of overtunes, then plucking a deep string or two before sliding into its balladry with the full band.

On trumpeter Kenny Dorham's bop classic “Blue Bossa,” Hino and Miller add clever accents behind each other's playing, then Hino walked over to the drum kit to scat over Harvey's solo. On the 1931 Great American Songbook staple “All of Me,” the two trumpeters traded the melodic lead, picking up on each other's ideas before rock-solid bassist Mauldin complemented his instrumental solo with a scat interlude.

During their take on Eddie Harris' “Freedom Jazz Dance,” Hino returned to the drum set to play his horn along with Harvey's solo. Then he stepped off the front of the stage to do a soft-shoe version of a tap dance.

All night long, Hino played with a fierce intensity rivaling Freddie Hubbard at the late trumpeter's best. Miller, a high-energy trumpeter himself, kept pace right through the closer, “Caravan,” where they traded melodic solos again, again and again.

Hino, who lives in neighboring Bonita Springs, filled in for Charles McPherson. The California-based alto saxophonist canceled because of pandemic and travel concerns. Del Gatto said he hopes to reschedule McPherson for the series'14th season, which begins in October.

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