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You can't keep a good guitarist down for long, in spite of the vagaries of the recording industry. John Hart, who has gained attention for his individualistic approach on a series of Blue Note and Concord releases in the past dozen years, has jumped to the HepJazz label, thereby extending his stream of self-assured and musically mature recordings. As one listens to the progression of Hart's work, it becomes evident that he has grown even as he presents a signature style that is similar in some ways to Jim Hall's. For Hart explores that harmonic possibilities of the tunes through angularity, understatement and a rich tone that imply confidence and ever-present curiosity.
That's not to say that Hart sacrifices melody. A listen to his acoustic work on Duke Ellington's "Melancholia" reveals that his dedication to the melody is firm. Yet, he elaborates upon the melody's implications through broken chords that facilitate the movement of the tune, even as they heighten interest by delaying resolution.
More than previous albums, Scenes From A Song highlights the wide range of influences that inhabit Hart's music. Furthermore, over half of the tunes are original compositions that Hart wrote for his new working group, the trio that performs on this CD. "Slacker's Hideaway" starts the CD with a shuffling rhythm and a blues sensibility reminiscent of his work with Jack McDuff. On the other hand, "Obelisk" is a six-bar statement that launches his energetic, but always controlled, solos over the quick propulsion of Bill Moring's bass and Tim Horner's drums. "Both Sides Now" begins as a conventional version of the well-known tune until Hart and Horner splash on the colors that alter the perspective of the tune for an appreciation of its underlying richness. Even so, Hart personalizes "Both Sides Now" by sustaining his unconventional chords over the tune. His work on "Parable Part I" and "Parable Part II" contains the same identifiable qualities of subtle shading and harmonic deconstruction, but in a more dramatic presentation that recalls the story-telling ability of the best Brazilian tunes. Appropriately, Hart develops Antonio Carlos Jobim's "Nouvens Dourades" on Scenes From A Song in a rippling flow.
Even though New Yorkers have been fortunate to hear Hart's trio throughout the past three years, finally the larger worldwide audience can appreciate its easy interplay and spirited like-mindedness as Scenes From A Song becomes available.
Track Listing: Slacker's Hideaway, Scenes From A Song, Obelisk, Melancholia, Nouvens Dourades, September Song, Both Sides Now, Parable Part I, Parable Part II, Passion Flower, Trio Slant, Make A Short Story Long
Personnel: John Hart, guitar; Bill Moring, bass; Tim Horner, drums, percussion
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.