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Tim Hagans: The Moon is Waiting

Raul d'Gama Rose By

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Trumpeter Tim Hagans shares a couple of things in common with Miles Davis. One is his absolute belief that his instrument shares something visceral with keeping fundamentally correct time—and therefore, on The Moon is Waiting, with drummer Jukkis Uotila. The other is his dalliances with the notes he plays; it is not that he always plays a note for a long time, but he stretches them as much as is required for each one to tug at the nerves, elongating the pleasure of the ear and then the heart and soul. Sometimes this pleasure arrives in the warm rush of a phrase that ripples into the flesh and arouses the senses, almost sensually. Elsewhere, Hagans' notes pierce the membranes of the body like near-invisible needles, as he creates the elements of a musical tattoo—visually, then narratively. This is something unique.

If Hagans has a something special going on with the drums—and, more especially, with Uotila, then this is all-pervasive on The Moon is Waiting. But he also has something going on with his guitarist, the incomparable Vic Juris, and bassist Rufus Reid, who plays with such gravitas here that he could well earn the moniker, "The Professor." Each of the musicians play with rare technical supremacy as well as marvelous emotion, and this is something that warms and slow-cooks a cool album; one that could well be one of this year's finest so far.

The thrill of the charts is insidious—infectious among the musicians themselves—and thus, their playing creates a kind of pandemic contagion that inflicts such a delicious ache in the ear that it is tempting to want more. And there is plenty of it, from the wickedly mixed metaphor in the interplay of "Ornette's Waking Dream of a Woman," to the frighteningly free and idiomatically magical playing on the title track and "Wailing Trees," complete with the whispering of cymbals creating mad gusts of wind, as bass and drums conjure up harmonic ecosystems for Hagans' wailing leaves and branches.

The monumentally hypnotic "First Jazz" recalls the fission of bebop and the ballooning fusion of cool in its fractal dialogues between trumpet and guitar, and trumpet and rhythm section. The primordial bite of "Boo," featuring Hagans' howling at the end of the song, is magical, while the rippling emotion of "What I'll Tell Her Tonight" is most heartfelt and stirring. The elegant stutter of Hagans' playing on "Things Happen in a Convertible" almost acts as a daring taunt, as much to the mythical figure in the car as to the other musicians, who respond—as Reid does, in his probing solo—with aptly wonderful and brilliantly controlled playing.

Fortunately, this music is ultimately contained in short songs; if Hagans had written a longer suite for The Moon is Waiting, its piercing pleasure would have been almost painful.

Track Listing: Ornette's Waking Dream Of A Woman; The Moon Is Waiting; Get Outside; First Jazz; Boo; What I'll tell Her; Wailing Trees; Things Happen In A Convertible.

Personnel: Tim Hagans: trumpet; Vic Juris: guitar; Rufus Reid: bass; Jukkis Uotila: drums, piano.

Title: The Moon Is Waiting | Year Released: 2011 | Record Label: Palmetto Records

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