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Jeff Lorber

He Had a Hat

(BlueNote; US: 3 Apr 2007; UK: 3 Apr 2007)

Pleasant’s not an inapt word for this one, which does give some indication of how prettily and maybe even exquisitely Lorber can play piano, and how well he can swing at the different tempi of “All Out Blues” (which comes as a relief beside the thought of somebody yet again – groan!—recording Miles Davis’s “All Blues”) and “Be Bop,”  both numbers like everything else on the set composer-credited to Jeff Lorber and Bobby Colomby. Tom Scott does deliver a decent alto solo on “All Most Blues”, it should be said, but the importance of such features could be overstated.


Other hands from the extensive guest-list are credited with arrangements, including Randy Brecker, whose one trumpet spot is a long way from the things which have made me alert to his presence anywhere. Beside any strictures on this set I must mention the nothing but jazz disorganization in which I once heard Brecker at a jazz festival. Boy, did that lack integration! Mediocre, everybody getting in everybody else’s way.


Nobody gets in anybody else’s way here. There are means to prevent that happening, so long as nobody does anything risky, daring, unconventional.


Go back in the archives to 1939, or 1957, and there are these musicians from Earl Hines to his sometime protege the recently departed Andrew Hill, at the forefront of contemporary jazz and definitely taking risks.  In 1939 there was Hines’s big band, and there were other big bands which hardly get mentioned in jazz publications, dance bands with the occasional interesting solo from a serious jazzman who joined the band to pay his bills. I really can’t think of an equivalent from 1957, but this is 2007’s version of the decades-old 78rpm shellac dance band records one and another now no longer young jazz fan might have played through, not knowing the performers’ names, in the hope of finding something in an inherited collection.  Kay Kyser? 


Actually the opening track’s hymn for America notion might recall 1907 and demilitarized Sousa or “light classical”. Professional to a fault.

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