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George Hoar: Soul Sojourn


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George Hoar: Soul Sojourn
Bassist/pianist George Hoar has had extensive training and playing experience in jazz with Rufus Reid, Dave Samuels, Harold Mabern, Harvie S and Art Resnick. But his stylistic influences also include world music and Western concert music from the Renaissance and the Baroque, which are very much in evidence here. Hoar leads off the program on piano, with the solo Prelude to the title tune. "Soul Sojourn" itself features violinist Mark Feldman (in one of his two featured tracks), and also includes strong solos from guitarist Troy Conn and Hoar himself, still on piano. The addition of drummer Joe Nocilla and bass guitarist John Butler also gives this tune the most conventional rhythm section in the set. Feldman returns later for the hymn-like "Awakening Hymn," a style well-suited to the violin. His playing is beautiful as always, making him a very welcome guest.

"Red Spanish Skies" introduces the rhythm section for much of the rest of the program: percussionists Kira Kundu and Carl Mendez. The Spanish sound promised by the title is provided by nylon string guitarist Miguel Nunzio, along with Hoar on upright bass. The "horn section" employs the unusual instrumentation of alto and tenor recorders (which could be that Renaissance influence). The same core group (no recorders) also plays on "Quiet Thunder," with Nunzio taking center stage and Hoar switching to acoustic bass guitar. The tune would not be out of place on an Oregon album, which also describes the general fusion of jazz and world music on the whole album. Hoar likes this grouping so much that he reprises it on "Train Travel" (again featuring Conn) and "Aqua Blue" (which showcases guitarist Van Sachs), both with Hoar back on upright bass.

The two final tracks show Hoar with another striking musical voice: fretless bass guitar. The instrument seems to bring out a special energy in him, both as soloist and accompanist. "Borderland Beyond" is the most energetic, up-tempo track here. Conn returns on guitar, and Nocilla joins the two percussionists for a definite jazz fusion feel (in the Weather Report sense of the term). "Turn Out The Stars" was the only misstep for me. It's a heartfelt tribute to Bill Evans featuring recitation of Evans quotes about Jazz and creativity. There's nothing wrong with Richard Dalrymple's narration or the arrangement; the spoken word just pulled me out of the mood of the rest of the program. Nevertheless Hoar turns in a lovely performance of this Bill Evans tune, with the imaginative accompaniment of bowed psaltery and acoustic guitar.

A strong recording overall. Hoar is impressive as a composer and on all of his instruments, and he has a fine group of players attuned to his creative vision.

Track Listing

Soul Sojourn Prelude; Soul Sojourn; Red Spanish Skies; Train Travel; Awakening Hymn; Quiet Thunder; Aqua Blue; Borderland Beyond; Turn Out The Stars


George Hoar
bass, acoustic

George Hoar: piano, upright bass, keyboards, acoustic bass guitar, bass guitar; Mark Feldman: violin; Troy Conn: guitar; Joe Nocilla: drums; John Butler: bass guitar; Miguel Nunzio: nylon string guitar; Billy Wilcox: alto recorder; Thomas Walker: tenor recorder; Kira Kundu: percussion; Carl Mendez: percussion; Kieran Loftus: piano; Van Sachs: guitar; Richard Dalrymple: spoken word; Mike Zinna: guitar; Pat Sheenan: bowed psaltery.

Album information

Title: Soul Sojourn | Year Released: 2014 | Record Label: Self Produced

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