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 Motions, The Surrealist Table, Castalia, Berceuse, Most Every Day, Ariadne's Thread, Funkissimo
Personnel: Ken Hatfield (guitar), Jeff Hirshfield (drums), Hans Glawischnig (bass)
I was first exposed to jazz circa 1973, when I met a fellow who ran Kappy's Record Store over near 10th Ave., on 42nd St. in NYC. We really clicked and when I told him I played piano and went to Music & Art HS, and had just started at City College of NY as a music major, he asked if I liked jazz...I said yes but I didn't know much about it, but that I did have sheet music for many popular 1920's through 1940's tunes by noted composers (Porter; Gershwins; Irving Berlin; Rodgers & Hammerstein/Hart; Jerome Kern; Lerner & Loewe; etc.) that my mother had sung beautifully starting in the 1940's including tons of famous show tunes, and I played many of those songs already
I was first exposed to jazz circa 1973, when I met a fellow who ran Kappy's Record Store over near 10th Ave., on 42nd St. in NYC. We really clicked and when I told him I played piano and went to Music & Art HS, and had just started at City College of NY as a music major, he asked if I liked jazz...I said yes but I didn't know much about it, but that I did have sheet music for many popular 1920's through 1940's tunes by noted composers (Porter; Gershwins; Irving Berlin; Rodgers & Hammerstein/Hart; Jerome Kern; Lerner & Loewe; etc.) that my mother had sung beautifully starting in the 1940's including tons of famous show tunes, and I played many of those songs already. SOOOO... he started me off LP's by Oscar Peterson, Art Tatum, Bud Powell, Errol Garner, Bill Evans, Monty Alexander, Charlie Byrd, and Dave Brubeck... does it get any better than that? ...No, it doesn't. I was hooked!!
I met and had a master class with the late music giant John Lewis, leader of the Modern Jazz Quartet! This was at CCNY in 1977. I was blessed! It was an incredible class... how could it have been anything else?!?!
The first jazz record I bought was...I bought numerous records from my friend at the record store, as mentioned above. He introduced me to nothing but music giants/legends! I think The Dave Brubeck Quartet, Greatest Hits, was actually the first one.
My advice to new listeners... study first--understand the rudiments--solfeggio, keys, scales, and basic chords. Read a book or take a class that includes the study of chord progressions, especially in jazz. It should ideally be a piano class so you can play multiple notes together. Have a good EAR or else it's not really worth it in my view...to become a musician, a good EAR for music is about as fundamental as breathing! Learn to read chord charts--i.e., lead sheets - wherein you play various voicings of the chords--major, minor, dominant 7th (alterations of these, you can learn over time - the basic chords are most important for starters), plus the melody, on the piano or keyboard. If you have to read the exact notes, then it's not the same as actually internalizing it & getting it all into your head. If you can do this, I think you're ready not only for listening to jazz, but understanding many concepts of it! Of course...anyone can listen to jazz... but I think it's so good to also have a grasp of it.