323

Bertha Hope: Nothin' But Love

AAJ Staff By

Sign in to view read count
Reservoir Music has quietly and effectively been building an impressive body of works by New York City pianists over the years, including Kenny Barron, Steve Kuhn, Rob Schneiderman and John Hicks. Now Reservoir has graciously given Bertha Hope, widow of deceased and under-recognized jazz pianist Elmo Hope, the opportunity to be counted in her own gentle way among some of her generation’s noteworthy pianists. “Nothin’ But Love” is her first recording on an American label.

After Elmo Hope’s passing in 1967, Bertha remained a favorite of New York musicians as she performed occasionally when child-raising responsibilities permitted. But the conflict and stress of those responsibilities meant that she had little time to build a career or to capitalize on her early studies with Richie Powell or her early work with Johnny Otis.

Now, in the tradition of other classic piano trios, Bertha Hope is building awareness, but more importantly, developing listeners who are attracted to the sincerity of her music. Creating a following, and in the process becoming kind of a cult figure, among female jazz musicians at the Mary Lou Williams jazz festival, Hope finally is available on CD for a wider audience to hear.

With an assured degree of technical facility, but also a calmness and devotion that can be channeled through her music, Hope’s touch is one avoiding dynamic extremes, but instead painting serene portraits, even when she goes for a bop sensibility, as on “Book’ Bok”. Even then, or on her tribute to Monk, “Gone To See T,” she can’t forsake her reassuring style and the ease of her swing. Angularity and surprise attacks and games-playing wit don’t seem to be her approach.

Rather, heartfelt emotion—as expressed in the tribute to Hope’s son, Sun Rã Gurumayi, “Prayer For Sun Rã”, or on her warmly sun tune “Balm In Gilead”—flows through her instrument, and thus leads to the title of her CD.

The other two members of Bertha Hope’s working trio couldn’t be more impressive either. Walter Booker—he of notable work with Sonny Rollins, Cannonball Adderley, Art Farmer and John Hicks—provides a like degree of maturity. Booker frankly sounds tremendous in arco on “Mia” or as he lopes through Cedar Walton’s “Ojos De Rojo” or the tune in his honor, “Book’s Bok”. Then there’s Jimmy Cobb, he of legendary drumming status with Miles Davis, Dinah Washington, Wynton Kelly, Sarah Vaughan and Sonny Stitt. The consummate professional, Cobb allows Hope to shine throughout her CD with bedrock percussion but also with unobtrusiveness until he breaks loose on “Ojos De Rojo”.

As RCA merges labels and Warner Brothers consolidates through combinations of conglomerates, it’s refreshing to hear deserving talent given a chance to record on—where else?—a small and scrappy label that sticks to its knitting and enlarges jazz discography and documentation in the process.


Track Listing:

Book

Personnel:

Bertha Hope, piano, vocal; Walter Booker, bass; Jimmy Cobb, drums

| Record Label: Reservoir Music | Style: Straight-ahead/Mainstream


Shop

More Articles

Read Akua's Dance CD/LP/Track Review Akua's Dance
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: February 21, 2017
Read Daylight Ghosts CD/LP/Track Review Daylight Ghosts
by Mark Sullivan
Published: February 21, 2017
Read Live at PafA CD/LP/Track Review Live at PafA
by Matthew Aquiline
Published: February 21, 2017
Read Ocean of Storms CD/LP/Track Review Ocean of Storms
by Troy Dostert
Published: February 21, 2017
Read Transparent Water CD/LP/Track Review Transparent Water
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: February 20, 2017
Read Billows Of Blue CD/LP/Track Review Billows Of Blue
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: February 20, 2017
Read "Live At The Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival" CD/LP/Track Review Live At The Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival
by Troy Dostert
Published: January 3, 2017
Read "The Unquiet Sky" CD/LP/Track Review The Unquiet Sky
by Edward Blanco
Published: May 1, 2016
Read "Have Yourself an Alto Madness Christmas" CD/LP/Track Review Have Yourself an Alto Madness Christmas
by Jack Bowers
Published: December 4, 2016
Read "Samba Gostoso" CD/LP/Track Review Samba Gostoso
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: July 6, 2016
Read "The Hidden Notes - Spirit Of Adventure" CD/LP/Track Review The Hidden Notes - Spirit Of Adventure
by Budd Kopman
Published: February 18, 2017
Read "Parrhésie" CD/LP/Track Review Parrhésie
by Geno Thackara
Published: May 17, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: ECM Records | BUY NOW  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Buy it!