World Saxophone Quartet: Hattie Wall


Hattie Wall


World Saxophone Quartet


Dances and Ballads (Elektra/Nonesuch 9-79164-1)

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Julius Hemphill (alto sax), Oliver Lake (alto sax), David Murray (tenor sax), Hamiet Bluiett (baritone sax).

Composed by Hamiet Bluiett


Recorded: New York, April 1987


Rating: 97/100 (learn more)

No avant-garde jazz band ever combined musical sophistication with sheer, unadulterated down-and-dirtiness better than the World Saxophone Quartet. Case in point: “Hattie Wall.” Built on a catchy, repetitive bassline played with Bootsy Collins-like abandon by baritone saxophonist Hamiet Bluiett, “Hattie” was the band’s theme song, and maybe the funkiest tune in their repertoire. A live version highlighted the WSQ’s 1981 Live in Zurich album. This later example is culled from the band’s second disc for Elektra/Nonesuch, Dances and Ballads. It’s tighter and more smoothly rendered than the ’81 recording, but it’s still a groove-fest, featuring the WSQ’s typically powerful collective soloing, tight-but-not-too-tight ensembles, and characteristic joie de vivre. If I had to pick one vehicle that represents what made the original WSQ great, "Hattie Wall" might be it. This studio recording may not be their all-time greatest performance of the tune (after all, the band could be a volcanic live act), but it will do.

Reviewer: Chris Kelsey

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