Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Nick Hempton Odd Man Out Posi-Tone 2013

Odd Man Out

Inventive. Edgy. Surprising.
Nick Hempton is a lyrical assassin.

Brent Black / @CriticalJazz

Posi-Tone records can boast having the most prolific stable of saxophonists working today. Nick Hempton is far from the odd man out but this aptly titled release should have his musical stock rising rapidly! In an era where the speed is king mentality is far too prevalent to be anything more than an annoying self indulgent harmonic train wreck, Hempton is old school and born to swing. Perhaps the scary aspect of Odd Man Out would be instead of splitting compositions between a handful of originals and then the predictable rehash of standards we all know and love, Nick Hempton treats us to nine original compositions that far surpass the two covers from Duke Ellington and Randy Newman.

Joining the party we find trombone virtuoso Michael Dease and a rhythm section that is the heart and soul of what may be the best straight ahead saxophone release for the year. Pianist Art Hirahara, bassist Marco Panascia and drummer Dan Aran are vitally important as the rhythmic pulse and harmonious synergy of a unified quintet and not a leader with four after thoughts.
From the old school blowing session vibe of the Hempton tune "The Winnie Blues" to the syncopated pop of another original composition in "Fifth Floor Run-Up" where trombonist Dease shines, there is a zen like lyrical sense of purpose. The refreshing p.o.v on Odd Man Out is that the pretentious nature of some artists to pitch a tent on an odd metered tune simply to make a point is mercifully missing here. Melody is key but artfully manipulated by the entire ensemble to keep the sound fresh and the groove solid even on a slightly more melancholy tune such as "Streetlight Lament."

Don't get me wrong, the two previously mentioned covers are spot on in presentation and arrangement. Nick Hempton has mad skills as a composer and could have easily made this all original compositions as the majority of the tunes here could easily pass for standards waiting in the odd deck circle.

Nothing to grind on about here. Nick Hempton makes it look effortless.

Five_star_rating : Five stars ratings Stock Photo
Tracks: Nice Crackle; Five Ways Through Harsimus; The Winnie Blues; Day Dream; The Set-Up; Fifth Floor Run-Up; Nights and Mornings; The Slip; A Bicycle Accident; Streetlight Lament; Blue Shadows.

Personnel: Nick Hempton: Alto & Tenor Saxophone; Michael Dease: Trombone; Marco Panascia: Bass; Art Hirahara: Piano; Dan Aran: Drums.
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