Wednesday, August 07, 2013

Nick Hempton - Odd Man Out (Posi-Tone, 2013)

Since saxophonist Nick Hempton moved to the United States from Australia in 2004, he has carved out a solid niche for himself in the contemporary jazz scene. On this album, he is accompanied by his working band consisting of Art Hirahara on piano, Marco Panascia on bass and Dan Aran on drums. They come out of the gate in a very strong fashion with the first two tracks, “Nice Crackle” and “Five Ways Through Harsimus Cove” which are classy uptempo swingers, performances that wouldn't sound out of place on a Blue Note or Prestige date from another era. “Five Ways” in particular has a more open feel which suits Hempton well with the payoff coming in the form of a well constructed tenor solo in the midsection. “The Winnie Blues” has nice round robin soloing from the band members concluding with Hempton and the drummer trading ideas. “The Set Up” is a strong medium tempo performance developing a percussive piano unit that gives a chance for Hempton to channel Dexter Gordon in a magisterial solo accented by Dease’s trombone. “Fifth Floor Run-Up” builds the pace back up featuring brisk, tight playing especially from Dease, followed by saxophone over open ended rhythm. Nice thick bass and harmonizing horns build a classy swing on “The Slip.” Strong saxophone and bass solos make this track a winner. This is a fine straight-ahead jazz release, Hempton is a saxophonist and bandleader who plays in a very confident manner and a very accessible manner. Odd Man Out - amazon.com

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