On The Surrealist Table , guitarist and leader Ken Hatfield offers not only a veritable clinic on acoustic jazz guitar, but the combo in general also provides evidence of consummate musicians taking great care in the execution of their craft. The pared-down unadulterated sound of three acoustic instruments weaving an aesthetically pleasing sonic fabric truly is an aural treat and delight to the listener. The production of The Surrealist Table also provides evidence that these musicians value the sounds produced by their instruments. In the liner notes listeners are urged to adjust the EQ settings to the flat/natural position on their audio equipment to enhance the great effort the musicians took to mix and master the recording to best recreate the natural acoustic sounds of their instruments.
The classically-trained leader has no shortage of guitar chops; he frequently demonstrates an incredible incendiary yet deft technique on his instrument. His performances, however, are not lost on mere demonstrations of technique, but rather aimed at making technical skills available for artistic expression. This artistry further shines through not only in the content of Hatfield's compositions, but also in a seemingly endless font of musical ideas expressed in his improvisations. Hatfield's cohorts, bassist Hans Glawischnig and drummer Jeff Hirshfield, likewise contribute very tasteful solos in addition to their solid and swinging rhythmic support.
All ten of the compositions on The Surrealist Table are Hatfield originals. His works are thought-provoking and full of variety, drawing upon many styles and influences to maintain the listener's interest. Of particular interest to this listener is the composition "Mixed Motion." The piece was originally composed by Hatfield more than twenty years ago and was reworked for The Surrealist Table. The piece definitely has mixed motions in the perception of musical time. The performance brings to mind that wonderful technique of the early-1960s Bill Evans Trio with Paul Motion and Scott LaFaro. "Mixed Motion" also has that sense of a "floating pulse," as though musical time is not present in the interaction of the members of the trio, yet there is a certain indescribable drive that propels the music forward.
The title cut, "The Surrealist Table," also stands out as a fine composition, with Hatfield employing some Wes Montgomery-ish use of octave doubling in his improvisations. Perhaps the piece stands out because it is a straight-ahead swinger that again firmly plants the listener on solid rhythmic ground, in contrast to the aforementioned "Mixed Motion." Without a doubt The Surrealist Table is a "must hear" for any guitaristor jazz afficionado, for that matter.
Track Listing: The Chimera, A Demain, Iphigeneia, Mixed Motion, The Surrealist Table, Castalia, Berceuse, Most Every Day, Ariadne's Thread, Funkissimo
Personnel: Ken Hatfield (guitar, composer), Jeff Hirshfield (drums), Hans Glawischnig (bass)
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