I'm a sucker for the sound of a classical guitar in jazz; I'll admit that going in. But within that sound, there are many different styles—some players do their best work in a solo context, while others shine brightest in Brazilian settings. Ken Hatfield is an all-around artist whose compositions are varied as well, as demonstrated in this collection of ten. There are funky, bluesy tunes ("Most Every Day" and the second-line "Funkissimo"), the mischievous ("Ariadne's Thread" and the title track) the churning ("The Chimera"), the gently swaying ("A Demain") and the poignant ("Berceuse," "Iphigeneia"). On the bossa "Castalia," Hatfield recalls Charlie Byrd, but without the sharper edges of Byrd's touch.
What these tunes have in common is strong and memorable melodies; there's also a directness about Hatfield's playing that conveys great warmth. He's recruited the ideal support in drummer Jeff Hirshfield—whose subtlety and brushwork are rarely matched—and bassist Hans Glawischnig, whose arco work is terrific (especially on "Berceuse") and whose thoughtful solos are not the kind people talk through when seeing a trio live.
In fact, this is an exceptional trio, and it's a thoroughly enjoyable CD. It's Hatfield's fifth on Arthur Circle Music, which is reason enough to search out the others.
The Chimera, A Demain, Iphigeneia, Mixed Motion, The Surrealist Table, Castalia, Berceuse, Most Every Day, Ariadne's Thread, Funkissimo
Ken Hatfield (guitar, composer), Jeff Hirshfield (drums), Hans Glawischnig (bass)