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Ken Hatfield: Phoenix Rising

David Adler By

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Ken Hatfield: Phoenix Rising
Ken Hatfield continues to defy norms in jazz guitar. First and foremost, he plays a nylon-string classical instrument, keeping alive a sound popularized by Charlie Byrd and also taken up by the likes of Gene Bertoncini, Ralph Towner, Sylvain Luc, and Freddie Bryant. On Phoenix Rising, Hatfield's second full-band disc, he retains the formidable services of saxophonist Billy Drewes and trumpeter Claudio Roditi. The two horn players appear separately, each complementing Hatfield's technically prodigious yet soft-spoken fingerstyle work. Pianist Dom Salvador, while not present on every track, contributes a layer of harmonic fullness and improvisational tension. Bassist Hans Glawischnig, who recorded a beautiful duo disc with Hatfield in 1998 and also appeared on 2000's Dyad, returns with a full-bodied tone and armfuls of rhythmic finesse. Completing the picture is master percussionist Duduka da Fonseca, a crucial link in Hatfield's attempt to blend Brazilian and swing concepts.

The title track, a bright samba, finds the leader throwing in a quote from "Passion Dance" - surely a noteworthy instance of peace between Hatfields and McCoys (sorry, someone had to say it). Following the reflective ballad "Tableau du Souvenir", Drewes makes his first appearance on a colorful jazz waltz titled "The Aleph" (curiously, Adam Rogers has a piece by the same name). Drewes returns for a Getz-like tenor performance on the bossa "For Jeanette", while Roditi makes his entrance on "Meroë", a moderate samba with a positively glimmering outro vamp. Roditi's second feature, the brisk 6/8 "Iberia", involves a smidgen of multi-tracking and a clever shift to swing time during the trumpet solo. Salvador shines on the straight mid-tempo bop of "Yo Es" and the hip, ambitious "Combray", memorable for its snarling bass line. Hatfield offers trio pieces as well - first the minor-key waltz "Retroflexion" and then the closing "Riff for Brother Jack", a parting nod to the spirit of organ jazz and a glimpse of the guitarist's bluesier, more aggressive side.

Track Listing

Phoenix Rising, Tableau du souvenir, The Aleph, Meroe, Retroflexion, Yo Es, Iberia, For Jeanette, Combray, Riff for Brother Jack

Personnel

Ken Hatfield, guitar; Hans Glawischnig, bass; Duduka da Fonseca, drums; Claudio Roditi, trumpet/flegelhorn; Dom Salvador, piano; Billy Drewes, Tenor sax

Album information

Title: Phoenix Rising | Year Released: 2003 | Record Label: Arthur Circle Music

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