The Julius Hemphill Sextet: Fat Man


Fat Man


The Julius Hemphill Sextet


The Hard Blues (clean feed CF027CD)

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Marty Ehrlich (alto sax), Aaron Stewart (tenor sax),

Sam Furnace (alto sax), Andy Laster (alto sax), Andrew White (tenor sax), Alex Harding (bari sax)


Composed by Julius Hemphill


Recorded: Lisbon, August 1, 2003


Rating: 90/100 (learn more)

Saxophonist Marty Ehrlich did jazz a public service by keeping alive Julius Hemphill's all-saxophone sextet after the great jazz composer/saxophonist passed away in 1995. Indeed, even before his untimely death, ill health had forced Hemphill to the sideline as a horn player, though he still maintained and composed for the sextet. "Fat Man" is typical of Hemphill's music for the band. It combines bop rhythms, dense harmonies, blues sonorities, and lyric melody in a surprisingly accessible strain of cutting-edge jazz. The group is exceedingly polished, sometimes to a fault; one misses the joyously rough edges that enlivened Hemphill's work with his previous all-sax band, the World Saxophone Quartet. Nor is his astringent, bracing solo style replaced by any of these fine yet rather less intrepid players. Still, the band interprets the music with palpable respect and a level of musicianship that's beyond reproach. Jazz composers have yet to catch up with Julius Hemphill. Until they do, such tributes as this will remain as fresh as the day the music was written.

Reviewer: Chris Kelsey

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