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Jeff Hackworth: Night Owl

Edward Blanco By

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New York saxophonist Jeff Hackworth—who performs in the style of jazz greats like Gene Ammons, David "Fathead" Newman and Stanley Turrentine—keeps the tradition alive on Night Owl. Leaving the standard piano trio behind, Hackworth recaptures the saxophone/organ blend made so popular by Lou Donaldson and takes it a step further by adding vibraphone to the mix. With organ master Radam Schwartz and vibraphonist Jay Hoggard replacing the standard piano/guitar combo, the quartet shuffles to a distinctly new groove.

A powerful tenor player, Hackworth begins blowing hard and steamy on the opening "The Man," leaving no question that this is his album, despite the splendid contribution of the new rhythm section format. Taking a page from The Doors, the group turns "Love Me Two Times" into a hard-driving jazz number propelled by forceful tenor phrases. In stark contrast, "Little Blue" calms the music, and features both Schwartz and Hoggard.

Inspired by Lee Morgan's "The Sidewinder," the Hackworth rendition "Sideswipe" turns on a 16-bar boogaloo, exacting a high-octane hard-bop sound from the group. The rock melody of the popular 1960s tune "I'm Your Puppet," receives a transformation into a soft jazz ballad, while the Rogers and Hammerstein ballad "We Kiss in a Shadow" presents Hackworth's most memorable moments of the disc.

A rousing "You'd Better Love Me," where the saxophonist and crew let it all hang out, concludes an entertaining and creative set that calls for more; the music is that invigorating. Exploring uncommon territory, full of sparkling solos and graced with first-rate musicianship, Night Owl may just be Jeff Hackworth's best production to date.

Track Listing: The Man; Innuendo; Love Me Two Times; Little Blue; Night Owl; Sideswipe; I'm Your Puppet; That Lucky Old Sun; We Kiss In A Shadow; You'd Better Love Me.

Personnel: Jeff Hackworth: tenor saxophone; Jay Hoggard: vibes; Radam Schwartz: organ; Earl Grice: drums.

Title: Night Owl | Year Released: 2011 | Record Label: Big Bridge Music

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