On his self-produced debut, Nick Hempton Band (2009), saxophonist Nick Hempton showed a deft sense of humor through his liner notes. No witticisms mark the release of The Business, but another factor that was evident on the first manifests itself all over again: Hempton is a saxophonist of class.
Yotam Silberstein on three tracks. The understanding between them leads to a musical odyssey that is deeply satisfying.
"Flapjacks From Belo" is a hearty mood-lifter, with Hempton warm and coaxing until he interlocks the changes through shifts of tempo and register. His investigations take on a probing network of ideas that are shared by pianist Art Hirahara, who helps define the moment.
Hempton is not content with letting one germane feel nestle in the arms of his compositions. He draws different strands that unwind beguilingly, as they do on the swinging "Art is in the Groove," a title that stands in testimony to his music. Hempton cuts deep playing with an assured majesty, while Silberstein echoes the swingan expressive player who keeps his exuberance under control to give the progression a lifting dynamic.
"Carry On Up the Blues" is another fiery burst. Hempton is in bop mode, his prowess evident as he creates tension and releases it just lightly before he winds it all again; a powerful display that never slips out of its logical extensions. With Silberstein harmonically compact and drummer Dan Aran adding brisk rhythm swishes, things takes a neat turn into grace before Hempton unleashes the final charge.
"Gee Baby, Ain't I Good To You" is a delicious serving of slow blues. Hempton winds up the intensity gradually, letting his tone energize his fulminations. He eschews frills, a stalwart exposing the emotional power of the song.
A rhapsodic fervor grips "From Bechet, Byas, And Fats" before Hempton loosens up to swing. His move is seamless and showcases his intuition, but the arrangement has more to offer in bassist Marco Panascia's strong turn and Hirahara's scintillating outing, which sandwich the quartet's churning propulsion.
With The Business, Hempton turns out another top notch recording that underlines his virtuosity.
Track Listing: Flapjacks In Belo; Art Is In The Groove; Gee Baby, Ain't I Good To You; Press One For Bupkis; From Bechet, Byas, And Fats; Encounter At E; Cold Spring Fever; Not Here For A Haircut; The Wading Game; Carry On Up The Blues.
Personnel: Nick Hempton: saxophones; Art Hirahara: piano; Marco Panascia: bass; Dan Aran: drums; Yotam Silberstein: guitar (2, 7, 10).
First time I met Lee Konitz, my mentor who completely changed my life, in 1992. He was giving a masterclass at the Cologne Conservatory (Germany) where I was a freshmen (with playing experience around three years total)
First time I met Lee Konitz, my mentor who completely changed my life, in 1992. He was giving a masterclass at the Cologne Conservatory (Germany) where I was a freshmen (with playing experience around three years total). He saw an alto sax on my neck and said: Hey, how about you there, would you like to play something for us? I played a piece with the piano. OK, said Lee, how about you play something unaccompanied? Oh yeah! I was deep into transcribing Sonny Stitt and pretty much into playing as fast as possible as many right notes as possible. So I played Oleo in about 300 beats per minute and was very proud of myself. Lee was tapping his foot all the way through. Hmm, he said, that was in time and all that... (I thought - yeah, of course, haha!) and then he said, You've got a lot of quantity, how about quality? It took me 15 years to realize what he meant.