Hampton Hawes: I Love You

Track

I Love You

Artist

Hampton Hawes (piano)

CD

For Real! (OJC 713)

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Musicians:

Hampton Hawes (piano), Harold Land (tenor sax), Scott LaFaro (bass), Frank Butler (drums).

Composed by Cole Porter

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Recorded: Los Angeles, March 17, 1958

Albumcoverhamptonhawes-forreal

Rating: 98/100 (learn more)

If your concept of mid-50s California jazz is of unrelenting cool, take a good listen to Hampton Hawes’ album For Real for proof to the contrary. All four of the musicians heard here were part of a small but vibrant group of California hard-boppers, and on Cole Porter’s “I Love You” they offer a blindingly fast but musically coherent demonstration of state-of-the art improvising. Harold Land had plenty of experience in playing way up-tempo during his tenure with the Clifford Brown/Max Roach Quintet, and he and Frank Butler had occasional opportunities for quick tempi in their new gig together in the Curtis Counce Group. LaFaro was new on the LA scene, but worked with Victor Feldman, Stan Getz and another Brown/Roach alumnus, Sonny Rollins, all of whom excelled at quick-speed features. From the introduction, Hawes shows that he’s no slouch at fast tempos, even when it involves a complex piano figure. In their solos, both Land and Hawes demonstrate that one of the secrets to surviving a breakneck tempo is to think of long phrases that will fit over several bars of chord changes (the faster the tempo, the longer the phrases). At this speed (liner essayist Leonard Feather clocked it at 22 seconds per chorus), it’s easy to play 8 bars or longer without taking a breath. This allows Land especially to create long flowing lines that could never be played in one breath at a slower tempo. Hawes didn’t need to breathe between phrases, of course, but his solo also includes several long phrases that extend over the 8-bar sections. LaFaro's single chorus is simply a walk through the changes, but Land and Butler are stunning in their set of exchanges. And speaking of Butler, I’m quite amazed at how he keeps the rhythmic groove solid without clicking his hi-hat on beats 2 and 4 throughout. Close listening shows that he keeps that essential heartbeat going for long sections of the recording, but the time stays solid even when he drops the hi-hat from his arsenal of sound.

Reviewer: Thomas Cunniffe

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