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In visual art, nothing is more subtle than a pastel. Well, this album was perfectly titled, because few musical artists surpass the subtlety of Stan Hope's performance on this album. Rarely has the piano sounded more beautiful.
Perhaps best known as pianist for Etta Jones and Houston Person, Hope also performs regularly in Harlem and his home base of Queens. His solos with Jones and Person of course tend toward rootsy/creative but here the sound is less bluesy, except on the only original, "Hopeful Blues". As you'll see from the list below, Hope's other song choices, with a couple of exceptions, are not your typical fare and that was a good choice. Though this is not a tribute album, four of the ten cuts come from one of Hope's main inspirations, Erroll Garner. I particularly like Hope's choice of Forest Flower, a tune too rarely recorded.
Bassist Ray Drummond and drummer Kenny Washington provide fine support. Houston Person plays wonderfully on three cuts. On the one hand I wanted to hear him more, but Hope is such a joy in the lead voice, the guest role for Person made sense.
Tracks:Be Anything(I.Gordon); Summer Serenade(B.Carter); Moment's Delight(E.Garner); That's My Kick(E.Garner); Medley A Flower Is A Lovesome Thing (B.Strayhorn), Forest Flower(C.Lloyd); Hopeful Blues(S.Hope); Pastels(E.Garner); Nightwind(E.Garner);Indiana(J.Hanley/B.MacDonald); Medley Cottage for Sale(L.Conley/W.Robinson), Everything I Have Is Yours(H.Adamson/B.Lane), I'm Falling for You(C.Williams/G.Sanders/J.T.Hubert).
I love jazz because anything is possible; it has few rules and the best jazz breaks those ones. I prefer free improv because it doesn't really have any rules at all.
I was first exposed to jazz in my teens (in the late sixties).
The first jazz record I bought was Filles de Kilimanjaro by Miles Davis, shortly followed by Extrapolation by John McLaughlin.
My advice to new listeners is to listen as widely as possible and not to make snap judgments--stick with it.