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Fred Hess w. Dale Bruning, Single Moment

Nate Dorward

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I've been following Hess's series of recent albums with increasing interest--wasn't enormously taken with the first I heard (The Long & Short of It) but each one since then has seemed to me an advance on the last. He's got that slightly grey, nervy sound & wary harmonic sense that I associate with Warne Marsh, & his arranging is quite distinctive--touches of the intricately polytonal 1950s writing of George Russell or Teddy Charles, though in the liners to this disc he mentions Shorty Rogers too & that makes sense. Anyway, he's been making a series of albums with basically the same band--Ron Miles on trumpet, Ken Filiano on bass, Matt Wilson on drums--but adding in other players: saxophonist John Gunther was on board for the last couple of discs, & now this new one has the veteran guitarist Dale Bruning, which makes for a really lovely ensemble sound (& Bruning is responsible for a number of the arrangements and compositions). This is much more of a "straight" jazz album than the previous ones--it's got covers of an interesting bunch of standards ("When My Lady Sleeps", "Spring Is Here" and two less-covered Benny Golson tunes, "Thursday's Theme" and "Out of the Past") & really the only dose of freedom come on the latest installment of Fred's Clefs series of whimsical musical narratives, and the title-track, a 12-minute freeish tribute to Michael Brecker. Anyway, I like it when Fred "opens up" a bit--his arranging is admirable & very personal but can be nearly claustrophobic over an album's length--& he does here, & the results are very fine indeed.

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  • 1 month later...

I listned to all but the final track of this one last night on Rhapsody. As Nate said, it is a much more "straight" recording than I expected based on my prior exposure to Hess. Nonetheless, the performances are consistently strong. I am going to have to revisit this one for further listening at some point.

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