Reuben Hoch's musical career has been a long and winding one. Reared as an orthodox Jew in Brooklyn, the drummer's interest in music was sparked by Chassidic songs, but soon he discovered Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers and the greater jazz discography. He relocated to Tel Aviv, Israel as a medical student, where he was a member of the seminal free jazz quartet Zaviot. When he returned to the States, he recorded two discs with his own RH Factor, and in later years he founded and led the Chassidic Jazz Project. Now, Hoch offers his perspective on the classic jazz trio.
Of Recent Time is an audiophile recording, recorded beautifully at the Community Presbyterian Church in Fort Lauderdale with veteran pianist Don Friedman and bassist Ed Schuller. Hoch presents his interpretations of seven modern jazz compositions, some of which are almost standards, plus one original. On all of them, he employs fresh approaches while investigating the original charts.
The set begins with an exquisite version of Sam Rivers' standard ballad "Beatrice," from Fuchsia Swing Song (Blue Note, 1964), dedicated to Rivers' wife. Pat Metheny's "Question and Answer" is transformed into 3/4 time in a manner that distinguishes Hoch's versatile style from the hard-swinging approach of Roy Haynes, the original drummer on Metheny's trio recording. Schuller adds supple, melodic bass and Friedman recreates Metheny's angular lines on the piano. "Requited" is a tribute to Brad Mehldau's modern approach to the bossa nova, and though it does not expose new layers of Mehldau's haunting composition, it enables Friedman to demonstrate his assured, lyrical playing. "Ballad for Nori," dedicated to Hoch's wife, is a spare, open-ended tune that emphasizes the interplay among all three members of the trio.
Hoch's version of Orenette Coleman's classic "Turnaround" succeeds in reproducing the open, game-like essence of some of the great outfits led by Coleman himself, and this take plays beautifully around the head of the enchanting theme, leaving enough room for each player. "Poem for #15"a well-known composition by pianist Steve Kuhn, also known as "The Saga of Harrison Crabfeather," first performed by Kuhn on Ecstasy (ECM, 1974) and later played and sung by others, like Sheila Jordanreceives a higly melodic treatment here.
Don Friedman's "Flamands" is a nice hard-swinging piece where all three players demonstrate their ability to stick to a groove. Wayne Shorter's classic "Yes and No" concludes this enjoyable release in the same era where this release began. The tune is taken from Ju Ju (Blue Note, 1964), one of Shorter's most influential recordings and one of Hoch's favorites. Here Hoch pays an imaginative and powerful tribute to the late Elvin Jones, the drummer on the original recording.
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