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Chicago-based performer and jazz educator, Ted Hogarth, is adept at all the single reed instruments, specializing in the baritone sax and bass clarinet, al la one of his famous predecessors, Harry Carney, who pioneered the use of the bass clarinet in an orchestral setting. Hogarth has regularly performed with a number of high-level jazz artists such as Charlie Haden, Willie Pickens and Von Freeman. On this his first album as a leader he has taken a quartet into the studio to produce a play list of standard and jazz classics mixed with Hogarth originals resulting in an engaging 70 plus minutes of engrossing, intelligent execution of the art of jazz music performing. Not only is the play list a good mix, but the playing is amply versatile to meet the challenge of the musical program. Hogarth takes a light, lyrical approach to both instruments, avoiding any heaviness especially in playing the baritone sax. Listen to his melodic, buoyant rhapsodizing with the big horn on "They Can't Take That Away from Me", where his principal play mate is Kevin Cole on piano. Hogarth's work on this tune resembles the cool Gerry Mulligan approach to the instrument. He also skillfully captures the haunting, lush timbre of the bass clarinet on several tunes, but none better than on "Ghost of a Chance" where he gets expert and sympathetic help from guitarist Neal Alger, who is active throughout the set. The lovely "Waltzing Through My Mind" stands out among a musically charming and absorbing set of originals. Most tracks lean toward the ballad side, often inventive and introspective, but always showing respect for melody. One of the cuts where matters liven up a little is on another original, "Rhythm Thang" recalling Thelonious Monk's tune with that similar title. Steps Taken is a fine opening CD for this talented instrumentalist/composer. It's a session that allows the listener plenty of opportunity to sit back and fully digest and enjoy what he/she is hearing. No frenetic fireworks need apply here. Hopefully, we'll be hearing more from him in the not too distant future.
Track Listing: The Song Is You; Waltzing Through My Mind; Pure Imagination; Rhythm Thang; Laura; Steps Taken; Morning Glory; Ghost of a Chance; Hopeful Samba; Tenderly; Three in One; Harbinger; They Can't Take That Away from Me
Personnel: Ted Hogarth - Baritone Sax/Bass Clarinet; Neal Alger - Guitar; Tom Knific - Bass; Darren Scorza - Drums/Percussion; Kevin Cole - Piano