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Friday, January 6, 2012

Jazz Education Network Convention...Day 3 Suzanne Pittson Quartet


About the only negative remark to make is that the concert rooms are set up in such a fashion that unless you are a professional photographer then the quality of your photo is dependent upon your smart phone. Long story short...good thing I write.

A jazz conference such as the 3rd annual Jazz Education Network gathering in Louisville is a critics worst nightmare. Everyone is asking you to hear them play or sing and covering everyone is impossible. I reached out to Suzanne Pittson because of "Out of The Hub" which is a release that I have never heard but hearing that original lyrics were put to Freddie Hubbard tunes then I simply had to check this out.

Freddie Hubbard was a driving force behind this project offering lead sheets and anything else that would be of help in such a tremendous undertaking. Entering the room this was a tired worn out critic from covering the conference for the past three days. Suzanne Pittson's husband Jeff Pittson was on piano along with two former Hubbard sidemen Bob Bowman on bass and Steve Houghton on drums.

Opening with "Gibraltar" and moving quickly into the Abbey Lincoln classic "Up Jumps Spring" there was no doubt that I made the right choice on which artist to check out. Moving on to tunes from Out Of The Hub, Suzanne Pittson's son Evan  penned the lyrics to the title track at the advanced age of fifteen with the blatantly obvious of the apple not falling too far from the tree certainly not lost. "Lament For Booker" found Suzanne Pittson at piano on a Hubbard classic that was co-written with husband Jeff Pittson. Another Hubbard classic "Your My Everything" and the slight blues infusion that slipped  in was a sheer delight. Closing with "Birdlike" which Suzanne wrote the lyrics for, this smoker helped wrap up a set that was swinging hard! Jeff Pittson's harmonic punctuation on piano was flawless. The rhythm section which was anchored with Bob Bowman's stellar bass work and is as fine as anything you will hear and was more than complemented by drummer Steve Houghton whose musicality was a perfect match. Not just a rhythmic time keeper, Houghton rode the groove for all it was worth and the 4tet responded in kind. Freddie Hubbard has a keen sense of melody and is one of the incredibly gifted lyrical instrumentalists of our time, the work done here is a fitting homage to true musical genius and genius reviews itself.

Suzanne Pittson is a remarkable vocalist, a proven lyricist and made the critic into a fan. An incredibly enjoyable 5 star set that anyone would appreciate! I hope to review Out Of The Hub soon but if the set that I was fortunate enough to take in was any indication then this is a release to check out!

After the set the Suzanne Pittson Quartet was presented with the Outstanding Performance Award, well deserved recogition for an outstanding ensemble!

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